Trees and a formation of crystal shards found on Mars?

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) is a NASA imaging project and focuses on data returned from Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, and regional surveys conducted by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The controversial HiRISE image below seems to indicate the presence of trees growing in rows and formations of crystal like shards on the Martian surface.

I’ve highlighted some of these trees and crystal like structures. The layer of white carbon dioxide ice passes behind these objects. There is also a red dust cloud behind the group of the trees. Check out the surface from where the trees are growing. The evidence shows that the trees are rooted (thick root systems are clearly visible). One group of trees at the middle, top of the image are upside-down and there is a red dust cloud visible behind them, this too me indicates some image manipulation, i.e. all the remaining trees are pointing up towards the sky.

Trees and a formation of crystal shards
Trees and a formation of crystal shards (click for larger version)

NASA’s explanation: “There is a vast region of sand dunes at high northern latitudes on Mars. In the winter, a layer of carbon dioxide ice covers the dunes, and in the spring as the sun warms the ice it evaporates. This is a very active process, and sand dislodged from the crests of the dunes cascades down, forming dark streaks.”

Several “dark streaks” start at the crest of some dunes, whereas other “dark streaks” are seen in absolutely flat areas between dunes, i.e. they can’t flow there.

Original NASA source:

Original NASA source:

In my opinion the trees and formation of crystal shards are pointing up towards the sky and are not flat on the surface; whether or not these are trees remains to be seen. NASA’s logic and explanation makes no sense. Unarguably this is a very intriguing image and will cause debate for years to come.