Scientists make breakthrough in finding explanation for ‘spiders from Mars’


Scientists have made a breakthrough in explaining the “spiders from Mars”.

The phenomenon occurs when black arachnid-looking splodges appear on the surface of the red planet. Officially they are referred to as “araneiforms”, and they are made up of troughs on the surface.

They are not found on Earth, and the reason they form on Mars has remained a mystery.

Scientists have now found new physical evidence that they can be explained through the sublimation of CO2 ice. They appear to be carvved into the surface when dry ice changes from solid to gas ni the Martian spring.

Researchers from across the UK and Ireland showed that the effect could happen by using the Open University Mars Simulation Chamber. That allowed them to recreate the conditions on the red planet, and find whether similar patterns would form through that sublimation.

They took pieces of CO2 ice blocks, drilled holes in them, and held them up like a prize that has been captured at an arcade. They were hovered over beds of different sizes of grain, before the pressure in the chamber was lowered to that on Mars and the blocks were placed down onto the recreation of the surface.

The blocks of CO2 then sublimated, or turned directly from solid to gas, and the material came up through the hole. When they lifted the block away, they saw that a similar spider pattern had been carved out by the gas as it left.

Scientists think that this process is explained on Mars by what they refer to as Kieffer’s hypothesis: when spring arrives, sunlight shines through the ice and heats the ground beneath, leading the ice to sublimate and cause pressure underneath, which will eventually escape through cracks. As the gas escapes, it leaves behind the patterns and the material will be left on top of the ice.



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