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Mars Express captures signs of spiders on Mars

Published Apr 26th, 2024 6:59PM EDT
Mars in color
Image: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/G. Michael,

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The European Space Agency’s Mars Express has captured images of spiders on Mars. However, the “spiders” aren’t the usual insects you would expect when hearing that word, though they do resemble the spiders we see here on Earth.

Instead, the Martian spiders are actually dark spots between 45 meters and one kilometer across, which have begun to appear as gas bursts free of the Martian surface in the springtime, bringing with it dark material from below the surface. The specks are most prominent in Mars’s Inca City, which is called such because it appears like ruins when looking down on it.

spiders on MarsImage source: ESA / Mars Express

The ESA shared the haunting image of the spiders on Mars this week, showcasing the way that the surface of the Red Planet changes as the seasons do. The spiders appear to be creeping across towering hills and expansive plateus, the ESA explains, though they aren’t actually moving at all. However, looking at the image, I wouldn’t be able to tell that.

Inca City and the aforementioned spiders were first spotted by NASA’s Mariner 9 probe in 1972. Since then, the Mars Express has captured high-resolution images of the location thanks to its High Resolution Stereo Camera. The ESA says we aren’t sure how Inca City formed, but it remains a location that we’ll want to explore more in-depth once we can send a manned mission to Mars.

Of course, studying the spiders on Mars would also be a great option for up-and-coming explorers. Getting to see the results of the gasses breaking through the Martian surface up close could help us better understand what the dark material is.

For now, though, we can at least enjoy the images that the Mars Express has given us, even if they are hauntingly filled with a plethora of creepy Martian “spiders.”

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.