Stunned space scientists were reeling last night after stumbling across a startling new formation on the surface of Mars – a crater resembling the Apple logo.

Top European Space Agency (ESA) boffin P. Antzensochs said everyone was "flabbergasted”. He added: “We knew we were going to make some startling discoveries on this mission but none of us were prepared for anything like this."

Speculation is rife as to how the logo formed, with some rock pundits suggesting the cause is ongoing volcanic activity, while others pointed to freak meteor impacts. Antzensochs said that "one thing everyone's agreed on is that its appearance is recent".

He added: “This is the first image of the phenomenon Mars Express has sent back from all its orbits around the planet. If the extrusion had been there all along we would have known about it long before now."

However, Antzensochs says many at the agency are unconvinced that the logo-crater's origins are natural. “The chances of such a thing being fashioned by meteors and sandstorms are literally huge. I’m a Mac user, and I know that because of the iPod the company is flush at the moment. Is it possible [Apple CEO Steve] Jobs has been able to fund a secret space-advertising program?”

Apple does not comment on unconfirmed interplanetary matters.