3D model of Fossil-Like Structures on Mars

The Curiosity Rover started this year with some remarkable images of small tube-like structures on Mars. The images were aquired with the Mahli (Mars Hand Lens Imager) camera on Sol 1922 and 1923 (January 01 and 02 2018). The structures are only 1 to 5 mm long and was first spotted on December 15 2017. The rover later returned to the site to investigate further.

It didn’t take long before the possibility of trace fossils were put on the table. Wether the origin of these odd features are the result of geological or biological processes is something that may not be answered with the technology we have on Mars today. At the moment most experts lean towards a geological process, and beeing on Mars that is probably a safe bet.

I have been experimenting with making 3D models from the Curiosity images lately, and gave this one a shot. It didn’t come out too bad.

11 images aquired on Sol 1923 were used for the model. No pre-processing have been done. The 11 images were loaded into a professional photogrammetry software using structure from motion to generate the point cloud. All images were then used to generate the texture for the 3d model.

Mastcam right camera with the area of interest in the red cirle.

Image taken on Dec. 15, 2017 with the Curiosity Mastcam right camera with the area of interest in the red cirle.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mars on Earth

Iceland. Viti explosion crater on the north east shore of Oskjuvatn, Askja. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Iceland. Viti explosion crater on the north east shore of Oskjuvatn, Askja. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The Mars rovers has found compelling evidence of a warmer and wetter time on Mars billions of years ago. The above image may illustrate how it may have looked like at some moment in the past, with small scattered lakes and ice. But hey, this cant be on Mars you say? We can clearly see two human figures on the crater edge, and we certainly have not landed on Mars yet?

You are right, this crater is firmly placed on mother earth, more precisely at Askja on Iceland. But you have to admit it looks somewhat alien. When I took another look it clearly reminded me of an image I had seen a while ago from Mars, and a quick search came up with this photo from the amazing Mars Express orbiter:
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