Sharks... in Space?AUG. 13, 2012 -- LETS BE HONEST. NO MATTER HOW JAZZED YOU ARE ABOUT GREAT WHITESAND BLACK HOLES, YOU PROBABLY DIDNT COME TO DISCOVERY NEWS SPACE FOR YOUR DAILYSHARK WEEK FIX. IN FACT, YOUD BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND A CORNER OF DISCOVERY LESSLIKELY TO OFFER EXCITING TIDBITS ABOUT BLOOD-FROTHED WATERS AND GILLED HORRORS.
As it turns out, however, there are at least five fascinating links (and one we totally made-up) between these Earth-bound killers of the deep blue and the mysteries of the outer dark. No, the ice-capped oceans of Europa arent teaming with hammerheads. NASA, so far, has no plans to put a goblin shark on the moon. Still, the connections are fascinating -- and just when you thought it was safe to go back into orbit.
Cosmic Shark Jaws Compared to the rest of the world, Polynesian mythology is a venerable feeding frenzy of shark deities. From Dakuwanga, Fijis eater of lost souls to Ukupanipo, the Hawaiian god of sharks, it makes sense that a seafaring people would find a place for such awesome and terrifying creatures in their beliefs. The Kiribati people even spotted one of their shark gods among the stars: the hammer-headed Teanoi, shaped by the Pisces constellation.Modern astronomers have also spotted sharks amid the endless sea of night. Study images of the Great Orion Nebula and youll find a curious dark area between the Trapezium and M43 star systems. Astronomers call this void the "Sharks Mouth," as it resembles yawning, cosmic jaws. Who knows? We might one day introduce sharks to a distant planet, or perhaps even encounter something comparable on another Earth-like world. Until either event happens, however, well have to stick to spotting their iconic shapes through the telescope.
The Shark Tooth Dunes of Mars David Bowie never asked if there were sharks on Mars, which works out nicely because there most certainly arent any. Yet while some scientists hold out hope for signs of microscopic life beneath the Martian surface, others continue to see sharks all over the red planet. Much in the same way astronomers see an enormous, gaping jaw in the Great Orion Nebula, scientists surveying the Martian surface have seen telltale shark shapes on the red, wasted world. First, the wind-swept sand dunes of Mars morph into shapes far different from what you find on Earth, including patterns that resemble sharks teeth (or Hersheys Kisses, depending on the viewers mood). Meanwhile, actually navigating a Mars Rover across the rocky surface turns every little geographic detail into something to catalog and observe. Small piles of rubble become mountains and miniature craters become canyons of mystery. In maneuvering the Opportunity rover, NASA mission controllers on Earth gave various features such whimsical names as "Berry Bowl" and "Shoemakers Patio." They even dubbed a triangular piece of rock "Sharks Tooth," and the related areas "Sharks Cage" and "Shark Pellets.“ Sharks on Mars? Thats nonsense. Shark Pellets on Mars, however, thats a fact.
You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their heads!" Dr. Evil demanded in the 1997 movie Austin Powers (to which he received "ill- tempered sea bass" instead), but dont you think hed rather have a nuclear-powered Mars robot with a laser beam attached to its head? Well, we do. As Mars rover Curiosity landed on Mars only a week ago, Discovery News thought NASAs newest planetary mission should get in with the Shark Week festivities.So, heres Curiosity, plus a faux shark fin. That is all.