Combine an active imagination with an image of Mars and you may spot a shag carpet, a Star Trek insignia or even Pac-Man on the red planet. The team behind the HiRise camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter imagined a dragon.
The HiRise team shared a view of a canyon on Mars as a picture of the day on Saturday. “We rotated this image of light-toned blocky material in southwestern Melas Chasma because from this perspective, it resembles a fabled Chinese dragon,” the group tweeted.
The HiRise site run by the University of Arizona pointed out a series of small valleys near the bottom of the image. “Several of the light-toned deposits are seen only in the valleys, suggesting they were either deposited or are exposed by erosion,” the team wrote.
Melas Chasmas is one part of the massive Valles Marineri canyon system located along the planet’s equator. “There is evidence of both water and wind action as modes of formation for many of the interior deposits,” NASA said in a 2017 release about Melas Chasma.
MRO’s camera originally captured the dragon-like picture back in 2007. It highlights the wealth of historical imagery in the HiRise archives. The orbiter has been in residence at Mars for over 14 years and continues to send back valuable views of the planet’s surface as it investigates the history of water there.
When it comes to mythical creatures on Mars, the dragon is in good company. The HiRise team once spotted the Game of Thrones House Stark direwolf in a group of dust avalanches.
Meet the Mars 2020 rover launching this year