by Dr. Eowyn
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in our solar system (Earth is the third). Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is also called the Red Planet because of its reddish color from the iron oxide prevalent on its surface.
For many years, Mars was thought to be dry, barren, and utterly lifeless. Then geological evidence gathered by unmanned missions suggested that Mars once had large-scale water coverage on its surface.
On June 20, 2008, scientists said they "found proof" of water ice on Mars away from the polar ice caps, a discovery made by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. Since all life as we know it requires water, that Mars once might have had plentiful water raises the possibility that there once was life on the Red Planet.
Recently, as recounted in an article in the UK's Telegraph, a NASA probe sent back photographs of what appears to be trees on the surface of Mars. The images seem to show rows of dark "conifers" sprouting from dunes and hills on the planet surface.
Here's a photo in the Telegraph:
NASA was quick to disabuse the public from thinking these really are trees.
Instead, NASA spokeswoman Candy Hansen insists that the "trees" are an optical illusion - trails of debris caused by landslides as ice melts in Mars's spring.
We are told the photographs actually show sand dunes coated with a thin layer of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, less than 240 miles from the planet's north pole. For that matter, one can even see a cloud of dust, just to the left of centre of the picture, where an avalanche is caught happening.
But are these "trees" really optical illusion, as Hansen says?
Take a look at the same pic, but in high resolution:
Umm, do these look like sand dunes to you?
And if you really want to go deeper into that rabbit hole, take a look at this video of Dr. Tom Van Flandern, former Chief Astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory, speaking on artificial structures on Mars at a conference in Washington, D.C., on May 8, 2001:
Life On Mars?
New Scientific Evidence