"Enterprising viewers will make the discovery that these features look conspicuously like a famous logo: and you'd be right, but it's only a coincidence," the university wrote in a statement.
The statement went on to explain that the image in the photo on the Red Planet is the result of a “complex story of dunes, lava, and wind.”
"Long ago, there were large crescent-shaped (barchan) dunes that moved across this area, and at some point, there was an eruption," the statement explained. "The lava flowed out over the plain and around the dunes, but not over them. The lava solidified, but these dunes still stuck up like islands. However, they were still just dunes, and the wind continued to blow. Eventually, the sand piles that were the dunes migrated away, leaving these "footprints" in the lava plain. These are also called "dune casts" and record the presence of dunes that were surrounded by lava."
“Star Trek” fans, along with actor William Shatner who played Capt. James T. Kirk in the series and subsequent movies, prefer to think of it as something more of a sign.
“Star Wars,” the movie franchise that follows the exploits of a group of rebels fighting an empire, answered Shatner’s call-out via twitter.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched in 2005 and has studied Mars’ “atmosphere and terrain from orbit since 2006 and also serves as a key data relay station for other Mars missions, including the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity,” according to NASA.
The orbiter has sent back thousands of images of the Martian surface.