Giant ‘claw marks’ on Mars spotted by European spacecraft – but there’s a simple explanation

STRANGE patterns spotted on the surface of Mars look like claw marks left by a cosmic cat.

The intersecting grooves were captured by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter and recently shared online.

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A European spacecraft in orbit captured this image of Tantalus Fossae from Mars

They have been compared to stripes and are part of a huge fault system on Mars known as the Tantalus Fossae.

Although they may look like they were left by a giant beast, the explanation for the ditches is much simpler.

They are the result of natural geological processes that occurred during the emergence of a nearby volcano.

“At first glance, these features look like someone has raked the surface of the Red Planet with their fingernails,” ESA wrote in an April 28 blog post about the image.

“Although its formation is not as dramatic, Tantalus Fossae is a notable feature on Mars.”

The trough system runs along the eastern rim of a Martian volcano named Alba Mons, the space agency said.

The pits – a term meaning shallow depression – were created when the summit of Alba Mons rose.

This caused the surrounding surface to warp and rupture, leaving behind a series of trenches.

The ditches are 1,000 km long and reach up to 350 meters deep.

“The same features can be found on the western side of Alba Mons, forming an incomplete ring around the volcano,” the ESA said.

The Mars Express orbiter was launched in 2003 and was the first European mission to the red planet.

It uses an array of cameras to study the Martian atmosphere and climate as well as to search for traces of water.

ESA was set to send its first rover to Mars this year, but pushed back the launch date to 2026 at the earliest after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The agency’s Jorge Vago revealed last week that it was struggling to get the ExoMars mission back on track after ending its cooperation with Russia.

ESA announced in March that it would be impossible to continue working with Russia, which provided the launch vehicle and landing platform for the mission.

There are currently four spacecraft on the surface of Mars, three of which are operated by NASA and one by the Chinese space agency.

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