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Another “What the heck?” formation on Mars

Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped, reduced, and enhanced to post here, was taken on May 28, 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and shows what the scientists label “unique terrain.”

I have increased the contrast to bring out the details. It appears that we have a flat plain of criss-crossing ridges that in large areas have somehow gotten flattened across their top. Imagine someone laying plaster on a wall and using a scraper tool to smooth the surface, but only partially. In this case on Mars, our imaginary worker only smoothed the surface a little, and only in some areas. To try to come up with a geological process however to explain this seems daunting.

And what created the criss-crossing ridges? The overview map provides only a little help in answering these questions.

Overview map

The white cross marks the location of this unique terrain inside the Medusae Fossae Formation, the largest volcanic ash deposit on Mars that is thought to be the source of most of the red planet’s dust. I have featured this region many times previously, because routinely it looks like a Sahara-like desert of wind-shaped hills of sand.

Thus, we may be looking at hardened ash dunes. However, their criss-crossing nature suggests prevailing winds from two different directions. Yet, if the wind shifted 90 degrees wouldn’t the new direction blow away the previously shaped dunes?

And once again, why are the tops of some ridges smoothed, all to the same height?

It is also possible this is a hardened lava flood plain that over time became eroded, both by wind and other processes. Once again, I don’t think there are any known volcanic lava processes that might explain the criss-cross pattern as well as the flattened surfaces.

All in all, another fun feature on Mars that we all can scratch our heads about.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Daniel Kaczynski

    This is actually quite startling; when I glanced at the image the first thought that popped
    into my mind is that this looks like a tablet with cuneiform writing! I don’t know what the
    geologists want to call it, but for now I will call it “Cuneiform Terrain.”

  • GaryMike

    Actually, I like that term.

    I was thinking “crepey skin terrain”.

    Now I don’t have to explain why I thought that.

    Thank you.

  • Col Beausabre

    My reaction was modern art -Texturism

  • Icepilot

    You guys need to get out more, as it’s clear & obvious what caused those terrain features …


  • GaryMike

    That works, too.

    It’s aliens recreating.


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