NASA’s Curiosity rover has spotted more weird rock formations on Mars, this time shaped like winding plant stems, according to a recent snapshot posted to the mission’s raw image database. The rover photographed the natural Martian sculptures on May 15, just a week after it found a bizarre rock fracture that made a media splash because it resembles an alien doorway. The narrow rock “spikes”in the new image are likely “the cemented fillings of ancient fractures in a sedimentary rock,” according to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, a not-for-profit research organization founded to hunt for alien life. These fillings are the last remaining parts of a larger rock structure that has eroded away over the years, the institute said in a tweet.
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The recent flood of interesting extraterrestrial pictures is a reminder that Curiosity is still making new discoveries as it ascends the slope of a Martian mountain, almost ten years after it landed on the red planet. In addition to Curiosity, Mars is home to two other operational NASA surface missions: Perseverance, another rover that is currently collecting samples that will hopefully be returned to Earth one day, and InSight, a lander that is likely to die soon. China is also exploring the Martian surface with its Zhurong rover, which has also found its fair share of weird rocks since it landed on the planet last year.