After more than 50 years as a franchise, Star Trek is still everywhere. We're getting new Trek TV shows, new (foul-mouthed) flicks, and of course, new generations of fans appreciating the classic series on streaming networks. But now, by sheer coincidence, scientists have found one of the franchise's signature logos in a place where no one has gone before: Mars.
Scientists at the University of Arizona manage the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera. The MRO, launched in 2005, currently orbits the Red Planet. Its HiRISE camera, which carries the largest reflecting telescope ever sent into deep space, takes around 50,000 pictures of the Martian surface a year.
One of those pictures shows a sand dune that bares a remarkable resemblance to Star Trek's Starfleet logo.
"Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo," say the Arizona scientists in a press statement. "And you’d be right, but it’s only a coincidence."
Meanwhile, here's what William Shatner had to say about the discovery:
Any Trekkies looking to make the ultimate fan journey should take note: the dune is on southeastern region of the planet, in an area known as Hellas Planitia.
"Long ago, there were large crescent-shaped (barchan) dunes that moved across this area, and at some point, there was an eruption. The lava flowed out over the plain and around the dunes, but not over them," the scientists explain.
"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."
And then, thousands of years later, Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek, focused on the idea that space exploration could offer hope to humanity. Now the two have coincided in a truly marvelous coincidence.
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