Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Five Rock Formations From The Solar System Which Resemble Objects On Earth

Intriguing photos from around the solar system...

With various space exploratory bodies from different nations around the world recently coming together to complete the 'Correlation Of Exploratory Space Missions Project', hundreds of fascinating photos from solar system probes have recently been released into the public domain.  Here at Tomorrow's Technology Today we've gone through the files and picked out a selection of images which were of particular note for their curious resemblance to creatures and objects more typically observed on Earth.

Acknowledgement: Our thanks go to guest contributor Professor Martin Feldman for his words of explanation as to how these various rock formations were most likely formed. 

1) The Giant Turtle Of Ganymede

The Giant Turtle Of Ganymede,
easily explained by the 'closed volcano' phenomenon.
This first curious image was taken by the Navigator-4 Probe during its 2009 flyby mission of Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter and indeed the largest moon in the solar system.  The rock formation in the photo was discovered near to the magnetic equator of Ganymede and remarkably appears to resemble a giant turtle.

To give you an idea of the scale of the photo, the peak of the 'shell' measures approximately 800 metres in height which to give you a sense of scale is roughly the same height as Ayre's Rock/Uluru in Australia.

Explanation:  Professor Martin Feldman explains, "This is perhaps one of the simplest images to explain and was undoubtedly caused by what astro-geologists refer to as a 'closed volcano'.  The phenomenon is actually quite common throughout the solar system and refers to an eruption of magma that forces its way to the surface only to find its escape route blocked by a rock formation such as the 'shell' in the photo.  When the magma meets the obstruction it is then forced out of the base of the shell at various weak points, and given that the temperatures as far out in the solar system as Jupiter are vastly cooler than here on Earth, the magma subsequently cools very rapidly, solidifying into rock 'appendages' at the base of the shell.

Of course in most cases you rarely end up with such a distinctive looking turtle shaped rock formation, but nevertheless the process of a closed volcano has been observed elsewhere in the solar system on previous occasions."

2) The Mermaid Of Enceladus

The Mermaid of Enceladus, formed by immense sub-surface pressure.
There's a lot of distortion in the original of this next photo, but after low spectrum photon imaging is applied to the photo, you can just about make out the outline of a mermaid shaped ripple on the surface of Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn.

This photo was also taken by the Navigator-4 Probe and there was a lot of luck in the timing of the photo, as unfortunately the mermaid shaped indentation is likely to quickly become distorted within the next few years due to the endogenous nature of Enceladus' surface.

Explanation:  Professor Martin Feldman explains, "Enceladus is the only moon of Saturn which is currently endogenously active.  This means its crust is constantly being shaped by immense pressures below the surface, and it is this sub-surface activity which will have forced the mermaid shaped ripple to the surface.  Sadly, the endogenous nature of Enceladus' crust is a two edged sword, as although it facilitates the creation of many intriguing geological formations, it also means that these formations are often short lived.  It was therefore extremely fortunate that the fly by mission was able to capture the mermaid image at the apparent peak of its clarity.

3) The Ionian Paw Print

The Ionian Paw Print, caused by wind storms of up to 2,000 km/h.
This next image is another with an animal theme and was captured by the Helia-WMP Probe on its fly by of Io, another of the moons of Jupiter.

As you can see, this image of a group of craters found in the Prometheus Valley on the permanently outwardly facing side of Io shows indentations on the surface which bear a remarkable resemblance to a giant paw print.

Explanation: Professor Martin Feldman explains, "I'd love to be able to say this was caused by a giant bear living on Io, but in reality it's far more likely to have been caused by the ferocious wind storms on Io which can reach speeds of up to 2,000 km/h.  When the wind storms reach their peak, the forces involved are capable of hurling enormous rocks with devastating force, and the impact from several such rocks striking the ground in the Prometheus Valley was probably responsible for causing the indentations shown in the photo."

4) The Venusian 'Rock Of Love'

The Venusian 'Rock Of Love',
most likely formed by erosion.
When the Romans decided to name the planet Venus after their goddess of love thousands of years ago, they couldn't possibly have known about this next rock formation.  However, it turns out that the 'love' connection was quite appropriate, as this next geological formation, found on the planet Venus in the Ganiki Chasma zone, is often unofficially referred to as the 'Rock Of Love'.

The photo was taken by the Venusa 4 probe on its flyby of Venus back in 2011, and as you can see from the photo, this 'Rock Of Love' does have a remarkably distinctive heart shape.  I personally found the photo to be somewhat of an optical illusion as at first it appeared to me as an indented crater, but after refocusing I then saw it as a raised protuberant rock.  Anyway, the experts tell us that its a bosselated rock formation, rather than a crater, and to give you a sense of scale it's estimated to be over five kilometres in diamater.

Explanation: Professor Martin Feldman explains, "The fact that the ‘Rock Of Love’ is a distinctively different shade from the surrounding area, suggests a very simple explanation behind the formation of the Rock Of Love; namely erosion.  Put simply, when an area of hard rock resides next to an area of soft rock, the two rocks erode at different rates, and so over thousands of years the erosion can lead to the creation of uniquely shaped extruding rock formations, such as the Rock Of Love.

5) Martian Graffiti

Many astrological observers claim the jagged surfaces found at the bottom of the Agathadaemon Valley on Mars look vaguely like text based Roman script, and they've even been described as 'cosmic graffitti' by some astro-geologists.  I have to say it's not an exact likeness, but scroll down the page to take a close look at this final photo and see if you can make out any 'cosmic graffti' for yourself...

"April Fool!"
Cosmic graffiti found at the bottom of the Agathadaemon Valley on Mars.

As you've probably already worked out by the above photo, this article was entirely made-up and in fact none of the photos are from moons and planets of the Solar System.  Well, technically they are, because they were all taken on beaches found on Earth, and of course Earth is a planet of the Solar System.  What I mean though, is that the photos are just Earth based sand sculptures (plus a dog print) with a little bit of photo editing then applied to each photo.

Please note, many of the incidental 'facts' mentioned in this article are also made-up, so don't now go away believing that Io has incredible wind storms or that there's such a thing as closed volcanoes.  It doesn't and there's not.  I just made those 'facts' up as well.

As a final note, if you're reading this article on a day which isn't April 1st (which admittedly is quite probable), then apologies for the 'April Fool!' photo and imagine instead that the photo says 'Fooled you!' or something like that.

This article was written by Charles Fudgemuffin, author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are priced at around UK£2/US$3.  For a limited time the first book in the series is currently free to download.  Click the banner ad above, or check out the Charles Fudgemuffin blog for further details:
How To Save The World books by Charles Fudgemuffin