Star Trek Starfleet Symbol Shows Up On Mars

By Douglas Helm | Published

Star Trek symbol

It looks like someone may have accidentally violated the Prime Directive. A very familiar Star Trek symbol was recently spotted in a picture from NASA’s Mar Curiosity rover. A Martian rock in the image just so happens to resemble the Starfleet delta worn by Starfleet officers on their uniforms.

While it would be cool to imagine our favorite Star Trek characters paying our solar system a scouting visit, sometimes rocks on Mars are just shaped in familiar ways. Still, it’s a fun image to see, and we can thank the continued work of the Curiosity rover for providing it. The Curiosity rover has been in operation since 2012 and has been an important asset in helping us understand the geography and history of the red planet.

It’s unlikely that the planet’s history would have included Star Trek characters exploring the surface, but a Trekkie can dream. Of course, even if Starfleet were real, a Starfleet officer would get in big trouble for leaving such an obviously important piece of technology behind. As far as our space exploration abilities have come over the decades, we still are pretty far from being a civilization that is ready for first contact.

In Star Trek a rule called the Prime Directive instructs Starfleet officers not to interfere with the cultural development of civilizations by making contact with them before they achieve warp travel technology. Of course, in the actual show, both Earth and Mars have been thoroughly explored by Starfleet, with Earth being part of the United Federation of Planets and Mars being one of humanity’s earliest colony worlds. We’re not quite to the point of making a Martian colony yet, but we’re certainly a lot closer to achieving that goal than achieving interstellar travel.

Star Trek symbol
Starfleet delta worn by the Enterprise crew on the original Star Trek series.

For now, we won’t be able to rely on Star Trek-level technology and will instead need to rely on the Curiosity rover to provide us with insight into Mars. The rover has been on a continuous journey to find conditions of life on the planet and recently began ascending a Martian mount called Aeolis Mons. As part of its observations, the rover looked at the rock layers to see how water flowed on the planet in years past.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that this may be the highest elevation that the Curiosity Rover will ever visit during its mission. The picture of the rock shaped like the Star Trek logo was taken before the rover conducted observations on a flat block of bedrock. The rover will be observing the composition and texture of these dark bands of bedrock to give us some additional insight into Mars’ geographical history.

Curiosity isn’t alone up there, as the Perseverance rover mission was launched in 2020 to look for signs of ancient life in Mars’ Jezero Crater. That rover is actually setting aside rocks that will be returned to Earth as samples, hopefully by the planned return date of 2031. Maybe Perseverance can head over to Aeolis Mons and grab the Star Trek rock as a souvenir to send back home.