A new unusual image from the Curiosity rover’s mastcam has people talking.
Here’s a direct link to the image on NASA’s site. What do you think? Petrified tree or rock?
Is there an ancient tree stump on Mars, or is it a rock?
That is the debate among some who have seen a photo taken from the mastcam of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on March 25. The long object sticks up from the ground and stands out among other rounded stones on the red planet.
The photo was posted on NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory site, and a video about the object made by the YouTube user Paranormal Crucible and posted last week went viral with more than 124,000 views.
“Looks more like the remnants of a tree,” the video stated, challenging the notion that the formation was a rock. The video goes on to compare the formation with other tree stumps found on Earth.
The website UFO Sightings Daily appeared to agree that the object looks more like a tree stump than a rock.
“It’s a good assumption since NASA themselves said Mars was Earth-like when a solar explosion hit the planet,” wrote Scott Waring on UFO Sighting Daily.
The Sun reported that other “wild claims” Waring has made about the planet include an archway proving the existence of an empire of midget Martians and images of a crashed alien spacecraft and a woman’s body on Mars.
The last time Mars could have supported any kind of tree we know about is roughly 4 billion years ago. Could a petrified tree stump survive that long?
Trees on earth proceeded the dinosaurs by 140 million years. The oldest tree fossil we know of on Earth currently is about 380 million years old.
On Mars there is no surface water and a thin atmosphere. Only wind and acid fog cause weathering.
Sand and dust from the surface is whipped up by the winds of Mars and distributed around the globe in global dust storms. The force of winds during these storms pounds sand into the rock formations, contributing toward the breakdown and recycling of the Martian surface.
There are also volcanoes on Mars which change surface features, but this does not look like a pillar from a magma geyser. Could be…
The other non-tree looking rocks of similar height stand nearby and the tree may be one of those that survived sandblasting so far.
With the technique of crater counting and with a radioactive dating experiment, NASA says some Mars surface rocks are 3.6 to 4.5 billion years old. Therefore, they date back to the time before and just after Mars had an atmosphere and liquid surface water. In other words, things may not have changed that much from weathering in the last 3.7 billion years.
New results from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft suggest that the Red Planet lost most of its carbon dioxide-dominated atmosphere — which had kept Mars relatively warm and allowed the planet to support liquid surface water — to space about 3.7 billion years ago.
The final remnants of life on an Earthlike Mars, when the solar wind blew off its atmosphere, may have been preserved if conditions were just right. It seems unlikely that only one tree would survive, but we do have single earth trees that stand in otherwise barren areas.
It would be great if we could have Curiosity take a closer look.