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NASA spots a telltale 'Star Trek' sign on Mars

'Star Trek'? 'Star Trek'? Image: nasa / JpL / University of Arizona By Mark Kaufman2019-06-15 14:25:12 UTC

The Martian desert is rich in curiosities. 

And Star Trek symbolism, too. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter — a satellite zipping around the red planet — captured a mass of ancient lava rock that looks strikingly like the Star Trek Starfleet insignia donned by the show's galactic explorers. 

"Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo: and you'd be right, but it's only a coincidence," NASA scientists said. 

NASA's planetary researchers, like they always do, had a realistic explanation for the geologic feature, calling it "a complex story of dunes, lava, and wind."

This Martian land was once home to great sand dunes, slowly sliding across the ground like they do on Earth. One geologically-exciting day "there was an eruption," explained NASA, and the lava poured around the sand dunes. The sand has long since blown away, but a footprint (or "dune cast") left over by the cooled lava remains.

William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk, on the show, used the sighting to challenge the Star Wars franchise, tweeting that "We beat you!"

But Mark Hamill wasn't too impressed with the Martian sighting. 

"Looks like a boomerang to me," the Star Wars icon responded.

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