Using the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter (MRO), researchers have detected cumulative channel growth of troughs, each carved through years of erosion.
Researchers said the trough might be the infant versions of larger features known as Martian “spiders,” which are radially patterned channels found only in the south polar region of the Red Planet.
“We have seen for the first time these smaller features that survive and extend from year to year, and this is how the larger spiders get started,” a researcher told media.
According to NASA, size of a spider can range from tens to hundreds of yards (or meters) and typically feature a central pit, resembling the legs and body of a spider.
Researchers thought that dunes contribute to the formation of baby spiders, but they may also prevent many from becoming full-scale spiders.
The researchers estimate it would require more than a thousand Martian years to sculpt a typical spider. One Martian year is equivalent to 1.9 Earth years.