NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory published a perplexing photo yesterday along with the question, “What is this enigmatic landform?” The photo shows a large, 1.2 mile wide, circular structure surrounded by a sea of smooth-looking lava flows. NASA scientists believe the mound may be lava that has pushed up beneath the lava flow (the lab rats think it’s a a giant mutant Martian amoeba). They noted:
“It looks as if material is missing from the mound, so it is also possible that there was a significant amount of ice in the mound that was driven out by the heat of the lava. There are an array of features like this in the region that continue to puzzle scientists.”
The image was captured via HiRISE, one of six instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.