These patterns are visible in satellite images of Mars’ south pole.
The pattern is shaped like a black branch on the surface of the Red Planet and looks scary enough, that researchers dubbed it “araneiforms”, meaning “spider-like”.
Measuring up to 1 kilometer in size, the spider does not resemble anything on Earth.
However, in a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the scientists managed to recreate a shrunken version of the spider in the laboratory.
Reporting from Space.com, Thursday (8/4/2021), the spider was created using a plate of carbon dioxide ice and a machine that simulates the atmosphere of Mars.
When the ice makes contact with a much warmer layer of Mars-like sediment, some of the ice immediately turns from solid to gas, forming spider-like cracks through which the exiting gas pushes through the ice.
“Experiments show directly that the spider pattern we observed on Mars from orbit can be engraved by the direct conversion of carbon dioxide ice from solid to gas,” said Lauren McKeown, a planetary scientist at Open University, UK.
According to NASA, the Martian atmosphere contains more than 95 percent carbon dioxide and much of the ice and frost formed around the planet’s poles in winter are also made of carbon dioxide.
In a 2003 study, researchers hypothesized that a spider pattern on Mars could form in the spring, when sunlight penetrates the carbon dioxide ice sheet and heats the soil beneath it.