Speculation is running rampant about a series of photographs taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter back in 2010 that is just now going public. In the photos, as you can see below, small black objects that many think bear an uncanny resemblance to earthly spiders are seen “sunbathing.” As you might imagine, the photos are sparking plenty of wild theories, some even going as far as to say that it could be microorganisms hanging out. That theory of course is completely unconfirmed and according to scientists extremely unlikely.
The spots aren’t an altogether new discovery. They were first noticed as far back as 1998. They show up on the surface when Mars starts to warm up. This supports the idea that it could be living organisms coming out from hibernation in a harsh winter on the Red Planet, but the fact that they appear in the same place over and over again seems to balance that theory back out by taking away a nice point of evidence for it being life. When winter comes back around, they promptly disappear again.
Scientists from all over the world have pondered the black objects, and the most accepted theory is that the objects are actually geysers. They explode as the planet’s surface heats back up and then freeze in the winter.
So, what do you make of the picture below? Do you buy into the geyser theory or does it look more like what could be the most electrifying discovery of the young century? Expect the debate to continue because the black objects are nowhere near where the various Martian rovers visiting the planet have set up shop. And the rovers can’t exactly hop over for a look as it takes a considerable amount of time for them to negotiate the rough Martian surface. The rovers generally try to land where they want to be and travel small distances to areas of interest, but they are not doing any Martian globe-trotting, for sure.