The Martian Flagpole

While it’s not one of the main topics I usually write about, I’ve always loved space exploration (too many hours watching Star Trek: The Next Generation as a kid). I follow the exploits of NASA, the ESA, the RFSA, and other space-faring agencies—public and private—with great interest.

The big news from space this week is that the Phoenix Lander has successfully landed on Mars (and you thought the big news was the toilet failure on the International Space Station). Mars is a particularly interesting planet, in that more than 50 percent of attempted missions to Mars end in failure—a much higher failure rate than you find in missions to any other planet or body in our solar system. Personally, I think somebody is shooting them down . . . but that explanation usually gets incredulous looks from the people I share it with.

Regardless, parts of the blogosphere are already noticing a curious feature in some of the photos being sent back from Mars by the lander. In browsing the gallery at the Phoenix Lander web site, I noticed the same curious feature (here and here). From a distance, it looks like a flagpole. Closer in, it looks either like a rock formation drastically different from those that surround it . . . or, dare I say, something artificial. Whatever it is, it doesn’t match its surroundings, and it has already gotten the attention of curious scientists (and space-watchers) around the world.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.