Does Mars draw pictures for us? – BGR

  • High winds have carved interesting shapes into Mars’ South Pole, including an angel and a massive red heart.
  • Images of the shapes were presented by the European Space Agency.
  • Mars’ South Pole is actually quite wet, and liquid water lies beneath an icy crust. So, understanding the forces in the region can reveal some of the planet’s secrets.

It is the holiday season in many parts of the world and if you stick to the religious meanings of various dates on the calendar, you are likely familiar with angels associated with these events. Based on new images released by the European Space Agency, it looks like Mars decided to play along this year, with various forces working out shapes near the planet’s south pole that are very much like an angel and a bold red heart looking similar.

Researchers are studying the interesting shapes not because they look like something you might see on a holiday mural here on earth, but because of the interesting events that made them possible. Of course, when you’re in the holiday mood, imagine Mars is decorated for us.

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What exactly caused these forms? Well, it’s actually pretty complicated. The large “halo” around the angel’s head is actually an impact crater that has shaped the head and distributed a cascade of material into the surroundings. Meanwhile, some of the other lower regions are the result of ice turning into gas and forming a depression.

Topographic view of an angel and a heart on Mars

ESA explains:

The “angel” and the “heart” both consist of different interesting features. First, the angel’s hand, as if reaching to the left, is believed to be a large sublimation pit, a type of feature that forms when ice turns into gas, leaving empty pockets and depressions in the planet’s surface (a process that often occurs when the seasons change). Sublimation pits have been seen on other planets in the solar system such as Pluto and can also be seen scattered across the terrain to the right.

Mars is far from the dry, dusty wasteland that scientists once believed had dynamic weather in many of its regions, with water ice and salty liquid water near its poles. If the theory that Mars once had an abundance of water contains water, then it is possible that life there existed for a long time. Unfortunately, it’s also possible that Mars was a rocky, watery world that never got all of the ingredients life needed to form.

Future missions, including NASA’s Perseverance Rover currently en route to Mars, could shed some light on the history (or lack of it) of life on Mars, but for now at least we know there is a heart there and are an angel.

Mike Wehner has covered technology and video games for the past decade, covering the latest news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones and future technology. Mike most recently served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot and has been featured on USA Today, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gambling addiction.