Comical Mars crater spotted by NASA looks like a tadpole

There's a pollywog on Mars. NASA has fun describing an oddball crater spotted by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Besides a tadpole, this also looks like some other things. 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

We've seen everything from a doughnut-like rock to face-like formations on Mars, but a larval-stage amphibian is a new one. This week, NASA shared a goofy image captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of a crater and valley that combine to look very much like a tadpole. 

NASA says the unusual shape comes from water carving out a valley as liquid flowed out of the crater. "We can infer that water is flowing outward because we have the necessary terrain-height information," the space agency says. Scientists have found evidence pointing to a distant watery past for the now-dry planet. 

NASA isn't immune to the occasional flight of fancy when describing things seen beyond our world. The agency likened a series of squiggly lines etched on Mars to "scratch marks" and describes circular formations found on the Red Planet as "blueberries."

"Tadpole" is an apt description for the MRO view of the Mars crater and its tail-like valley, but we could also go with sperm, yo-yo or perhaps a lollipop with a bent stick. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

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