Trek fans on the various social media sites were sent photos this week by their friends and relatives who knew they were fans of Star Trek because these friends and family had seen a picture featuring a certain chevron shape on Mars that resembled a Starfleet logo.
These chevron-type shapes found in southeast Hellas Planitia result from a “complex story of dunes, lava, and wind.”
According to Research Scientist Ross Beyer (NASA, Seti Institute), this is what happened to form the iconic symbol on the Red Planet. “Long ago, there were large crescent-shaped (barchan) dunes that moved across this area, and at some point, there was an eruption,” he said. “The lava flowed out over the plain and around the dunes, but not over them. The lava solidified, but these dunes still stuck up like islands. However, they were still just dunes, and the wind continued to blow. Eventually, the sand piles that were the dunes migrated away, leaving these ‘footprints’ in the lava plain. These are also called ‘dune casts’ and record the presence of dunes that were surrounded by lava.”
Source: University of Arizona HiRISE