There aren’t many fans of the sport of curling on Earth, even during the Winter Olympics. Could frustrated players have taken their rocks and moved to Mars? So far, that’s one of the better explanations for a strange phenomenon spotted on the surface of the Red Planet by Google Mars observers – skid marks that look like the result of rocks sliding across the ground. What else could it be?
The first thought is that the slide marks resemble those made by the sailing stones of the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley. That mystery was solved in 2014 when time-lapse cameras showed water freezing into windowpane ice under the 700 pound stones allowing light winds to move them around. However, the Earth sailing stones move in zigzag patterns while the Martian rocks slide in lockstep.
Another possible explanation offered is dust devils, those mighty little tornadoes that kick up a lot of dust without lifting houses, witches or sharks. Dust devils are common on Mars but, like the sailing stones, they travel in zigzags.
Then there’s NASA’s new explanation for all things strange on Mars … water. Yes, there’s water trickling across the Martian surface but the trails offered as evidence are usually near slopes. These trails are on flat ground.
Fans of sandworms can put their plug in here. An interesting theory, especially since one of the trails seems to have a hole or crater at one end. Unfortunately, the others don’t.
That leaves … aliens? Aliens who curl? Curling has been called “chess on ice” and the president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) claims the sport was given to earthlings by aliens … information he received firsthand on an alien spaceship.
Could they have given us curling too?
While you ponder the ramifications of that, we’ll wait for a NASA explanation for these strange skid marks on Mars.