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Something Strange is Sliding Across the Surface of Mars

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.

Are these stones sliding in formation?

Are these stones sliding in formation?

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.

Actual dust devil trails on Mars

Actual dust devil trails on Mars

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.

Is that a sandworm hole?

Is that a sandworm hole?

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.

Those pants look pretty alien

Those pants look pretty alien

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  • Bill O’Neil

    What scale are we looking at here? It would be nice to know what size these areas are.

  • Hal Walden

    Story needs to give us more info. How large are those stones, and how fall/wide are those trails ?

  • R.E. Tard

    This looks like a thin layer of PLASTER of PARIS has been removed from a backing board. I imagine that while working on this “model”, someone said,”hey, take a picture of it as it sits and see what reaction it gets”!

  • Mahhn

    My thoughts: These are in a varied sloping crater(s), There is a frozen smooth ground under the thick settled dust layers from the known Martian winds, which would certainly deposit more dust in a crater than it would take out. The dust layer (dirt) is sliding down a bit when there is either to much weight or a tiny tremor and starts a mini avalanche (the movement). From the looks of the images – the bunching up/compressing where it slides makes me think it’s dust. The smooth looking surface makes me think its smooth, the cold surface for the most part makes me think it’s frozen. Sorry no cool space turtles this time.

  • Arcanek

    It’s the rock snakes from Thunderbirds are Go

  • Defiant

    It’s obviously the result of colossal Marian sandworms slithering across the landscape. Duh.

  • Zaffar Iqbal

    Seems like a similar phenomenon to here on earth.

  • Those are dust devil tracks in the third picture. You even identify them as such but then go on to suggest it’s something else? Please! There are actual dust devils on Mars because they form the same way as on Earth, but are not as strong because of the low density of the atmosphere. But enough to clear off the lighter surface and expose the darker subsurface.

  • Much less where the images came from (which mission) so that people can check them out, rather then depending on not so great screen grabs.