Mars is covered with strange-looking geological formations and this is no exception. As noted by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera mounted onboard the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) orbiter orbiting 170 miles above, this shape-twisted heart is located in the famous Tharsis Bulge - the region that houses the largest ancient volcanoes .
The heart, which was most likely formed due to volcanic activity, was seen south of the huge shield volcano Ascraeus Mons and has about 200 meters in diameter (slightly less than two football fields). This structure is multi-layered and towers over the surrounding landscape. “Perhaps this formation is an ancient ventilation structure (a hole in the ground from which volcanic lava comes), which was more resistant to erosion than the neighborhood, as it resembles“ inverted terrain ”,” writes planetary scientist Ramy El-Maarry.
This “inverted terrain” effect often occurs when a part of the landscape is subject to erosion. In this case, the probable hole consists of ancient lava, which most likely forms puddles inside a depression or valley. After the lava cools and the surrounding landscape begins to be eroded, the sublime multi-layered structure appears as a heart that can be seen today. This process is known as “topographic inversion”.