NASA spacecraft spots Babylon 5 villain lookalike in Mars formation

The Shadows seem to have parked on Mars.

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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This view of Mars from 2020 shows where a meteorite hit the surface and blasted the dust off of the landscape, leaving behind dark streaks.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Star Trek and Star Wars aren't the only sci-fi franchises that get to have fun with Mars images. We've seen the Starfleet logo and a rock that resembles Jabba the Hutt. Now it's time for epic cult class Babylon 5 to get some Martian love.

The NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) HiRise camera team at the University of Arizona runs one of the finest Mars-related Twitter accounts in the universe. The team spotted a formation on Mars that looks an awful lot like a Babylon 5 villain's creepy spacecraft.

"You know at this point, the Shadows are just flaunting it in everyone's face," the HiRise team tweeted, sharing a photo of a dark-streaked surface on Mars along with an inset image of a Shadow vessel. The Shadows were a malevolent and ancient alien race from the '90s show.

The image is from an MRO observation earlier this year, but it HiRise highlighted as an image of the day on Monday

The actual explanation for the wild appearance has nothing to do with aliens. We're seeing is a crater created by a meteorite. The dark, spidery-looking areas on the sides of the crater are free of dust.

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Dark streaks can form due to natural actions when the ground slumps. "In this case though, the impact and explosion that made the crater seems to have set off many of these downhill slumps of dust simultaneously," wrote University of Arizona planetary scientist Shane Byrne. "This could have happened from the explosion's blast wave passing through the air or the shaking of the ground that it caused."

The HiRise tweet caught the attention of Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, who commented, "All I can do is try to warn people ... the rest is up to the force of collective history."

It's a good thing this is all just fictional, right?