An amateur astronomer spotted a familiar sight on the surface of Mars in a photograph taken by NASA’s Curiosity Rover.
Star Trek fans will instantly recognize the arrowhead insignia that was worn on the uniforms of Captain Kirk, Spock, and Jean-Luc Picard.
It was picked up by Stuart Atkinson, a Martian amateur astronomer, who apparently spotted it among the Mars Curiosity RAW images that are posted to a dedicated website.
“I bet the Star Trek fans on the Mars Curiosity team smiled like Cheshire Cats when they saw this new image appear on their screens,” Atkinson wrote on January 10.
The image was captured on January 9 (or sol 4,062 by Martian days) by the rover’s Left Navigation Camera. The shot is actually a wide one with the Star Trek symbol sitting in a sea of rocks so it was a good spot by Atkinson.
I bet the Star Trek fans on the @MarsCuriosity team smiled like Cheshire Cats when they saw this new image appear on their screens… :-)
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech pic.twitter.com/SdWyq4Sc5P
— Stuart Atkinson (@mars_stu) January 10, 2024
The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars on August 4, 2012, and it continues to roam the Red Planet searching for signs of life. An update on the Curiosity blog on January 9 noted that the spacecraft was “positioned to execute contact science on a flat block of dark-toned bedrock in its workspace and continue investigating the composition and texture of the dark bands we’ve been observing from orbit.”
Space notes that the success of Curiosity allowed NASA to send another rover mission in the form of Perseverance which is currently exploring the Jezero Crater; this month beamed back a 360-degree image of an ancient Martian river.
In December, NASA released a timelapse recorded by Curiosity’s cameras that show the Martian landscape over 12 hours from sunrise to sunset.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech