A remarkable rectangular iceberg with sharp edges and a smooth surface looks as if it were deliberately cut by a machine, but NASA scientists say it’s a product of Mother Nature.
The space organization’s IceBridge plane monitoring the Earth’s polar ice captured the image last week, and NASA ice scientist Kelly Brunt told Live Science the ice slab is a perfect example of what’s known as a “tabular iceberg.”
These icebergs usually break off the edge of ice shelves and are known for their vertical sides, 90-degree angles and flat plateaus. When they first split off they’re objects of geometric perfection, until they float around and begin to melt, bump into things and look misshapen.
ALSO: Massive iceberg breaks off glacier in Antarctica
“We get two types of icebergs: We get the type that everyone can envision in their head that sank the Titanic, and they look like prisms or triangles at the surface and you know they have a crazy subsurface,” Brunt told Live Science. “And then you have what are called ‘tabular icebergs.'”
This particular tabular iceberg came from the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. Scientists suspect it’s about a mile-long across.
See more photos from NASA’s operation IceBridge that’s monitoring the thickness of ice in the gallery above.