NASA Decodes Martian Morse Code - Dispatch Weekly

July 11, 2016 - Reading time: 3 minutes

Conspiracy theorists would love this and will most likely turn it against NASA, the US government and probably all other space agencies who have Mars on their agenda. It seems that Martians too know ‘Morse code’ and are trying to convey a message using sand dunes.

NASA released an image of Mars last week that was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on February 6 earlier this year. The image shows off sand dunes and surprisingly the formation of these dunes is akin to lines and dots that we find in Morse code.

Considering that there will be at least two factions of people – one in favor of scientific explanation and the other taking the liberty of turning this into a huge conspiracy theory about aliens and NASA hiding something – we will put forward both the views.

The first one is put forward by NASA which reveals that the dunes are influenced by local topography. The structure of these dunes tells a whole lot about wind direction, but in this particular image the wind direction can’t be ascertained for the formation of these dunes is rather complex. NASA says that a circular depression has limited the amount of sand available for dune formation and influenced local winds. As a result, the dunes here form distinct dots and dashes.

The “dashes” are linear dunes formed by bi-directional winds, which are not traveling parallel to the dune. Instead, the combined effect of winds from two directions at right angles to the dunes, funnels material into a linear shape. The smaller “dots” (called “barchanoid dunes”) occur where there is some interruption to the process forming those linear dunes. This process is not well understood at present and is one motivation for HiRISE to image this area.

Now a little fodder for conspiracy theorists – because we would like both factions to read our stories. Hidden message by aliens is the claim and we will cite Gizmodo here for their efforts to decode part of the whole message.


That’s what the decoded message reads and while the whole image contains a far lengthier message, we are almost certain that it contains more lines of this ‘encrypted’ message.

So are we to employ a decryption algorithm to make sense out of this message? Why would aliens make it so difficult for us to read their message? Do they want us to fry our brains while trying to make sense of the message and in the mean time they will sneak up on us and take control of the Earth? Too far-fetched?

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.