Proving once again how prophetic David Bowie was with his Spiders from Mars, the European Space Agency (ESA) Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter recently captured a truly captivating image of a “hairy blue spider” stretched out upon the surface of Mars.
As Live Science reported, on February 8 the orbiter captured the sprawling spider image on Mars along the Red Planet’s Terra Sabaea region by way of the orbiter’s unique Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS). The blue tracks, which appear like spider legs, show areas of the ridge which have been scattered about due to the fierce winds of tornadoes.
While the real color of the spider legs on Mars is technically a dark, rust-colored red, the color-composite image snapped by the ExoMars orbiter shows it as blue. By using this color and technique, scientists are able to analyze the surface features of this region in much greater detail.
Even though scientists have stated that they are still unsure about why so many tornadoes, or dust devils, have formed over the Terra Sabaea ridge of Mars, they suspect that part of the reason for this may be due to the mountains in this area affecting the flow of air in this region and helping tornadoes to spring up.
Further images taken by the ExoMars orbiter have also shown impact craters, stunning 3D snapshots of outcrops, dunes and craters, and deposits hidden within the south polar ice cap region of the red planet.
“All of the images we’re sharing today represent some of the best from the last few months,” Nicolas Thomas, a CaSSIS principal investigator from the University of Bern in Switzerland, explained, describing the large amount of images that the ESA has just released.
The ExoMars orbiter also snapped a stunning image on March 2 of NASA’s InSight lander as it began its burrowing process to extract samples of the interior of Mars. In the photograph taken by the orbiter, the InSight lander looks like a super tiny white object within a much larger and darker circle made up entirely of rocks which were previously burned by rockets as the lander slowly made its descent onto the planet. The image also shows both the parachute and heat shield of InSight, which were thrust off the lander as it touched down.
With the recent release of the many new images captured by the ExoMars orbiter, including that of the hairy blue spider on Mars, it is certain that the next addition of ESA photos taken by the orbiter will be equally dazzling, showing us many more surprises.