Seemingly stamped in the ruddy sands of the famous Red Planet, a familiar chevron emblem resembling Star Trek's iconic Starfleet logo has been recently spotted by NASA's intrepid Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and it has Star Wars folks a bit worried.
This conspicuously shaped sand dune is the obvious result of winds, lava, and other elemental forces sculpting the barren Martian landscape and is located in Hellas Planitia, a broad section of plain inside the boundaries of the Hellas impact basin in Mars' southern hemisphere.
The startling Starfleet brand is not the first seen during the MRO's 13-year visit to the arid planet, but it did start a fun Twitter dustup between one famous Star Trek captain and the legions of rival Star Wars faithful, including a Jedi Master!
"Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo," the University of Arizona's MRO HiRISE team said in an official statement. "You'd be right, but it's only a coincidence."
In a clear demonstration of the effects of time and geologic events, the interaction of sand, wind, and volcanic substances allowed for these distinctive crescents to remain long after the lava cooled and the triangular islands emerged.
"However, they were still just dunes, and the wind continued to blow," the statement added. "Eventually, the sand piles that were the dunes migrated away, leaving these 'footprints' in the lava plain. These are also called 'dune casts' and record the presence of dunes that were surrounded by lava."
Is this revealing image pure coincidence or a cosmic imprint signifying Star Trek's ultimate superiority over the empire of Star Wars? You decide.