Click for original image.
Cool image time! The picture to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was taken on January 21, 2023 by the high resolution camera of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows what the scientists label a “pyramidal mound”, which is I think understating the point somewhat.
This pyramid is almost perfectly square, with two perpendicular ridgelines rising from its corners to meet perfectly at the pyramid’s peak. A similar pyramid mound in the Cydonia region, where the so-called “Face on Mars” was found, caused endless absurd speculations in the 1990s of past Martian civilizations, all of which burst into nothingness when good high resolution images were finally obtained in the 2000s.
But what caused this very symmetrical natural feature?
Click for original image.
The first picture to the right is an overview map, the black dot about 325 miles almost due south of Perseverance marking the location of this pyramid. This spot, on the fringe of Isidis Basin to the east and the shield volcano Syrtis Major to the west, tells us a lot. Isidis was formed by a large impact four billion years ago, and contains many volcanic features. Syrtis is one of Mars’ many gigantic volcanoes, and once spewed flood lava more than 200 miles in all directions about three billion years ago, covering the surface in a wide area so that few craters are seen around it.
The second picture was taken on January 2, 2022 by the context camera on MRO, showing a wider area for context. The white rectangle indicates the area covered by the high resolution photo. Note the fissure to the north of the pyramid, with its head marked by the arrow. The grade downhill is almost certainly to the east, and this fissure, following that grade, is almost certainly a lava flow feature with the arrow indicating the vent from which the lava discharged.
What all of this additional information suggests is that this pyramid is likely a volcanic lava feature of some kind. Possibly the upward push of lava at this point failed to break the surface for some reason — as happened at that vent to the north. The result was this mound instead.
None of this information however really explains why if is shaped as it is. If any scientists have come up with an explanation, however, it is difficult to find it because online searches are still overwhelmed by the silly theories from the 1990s about non-existent Martian civilizations building faces and pyramids on Mars. There might be a geological paper on this subject, but I could not find it.
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