In a rough-and-tumble wonderland of plunging canyons and towering buttes, some of the still-raw bluffs are lined with soaring, six-sided stone columns so orderly and trim, they could almost pass as relics of a colossal temple. The secret of how these columns, packed in edge to edge, formed en masse from a sea of molten rock is encrypted in details as tiny as the cracks running across their faces. To add to this mystery's allure, decoding it might do more than reveal the life story of some local lava: it might help explain the history of Mars.
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