Unique phenomenon recorded on Mars (PHOTOS)

Mars image
File NASA

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Scientists have observed sand movements on Mars that never occur on Earth. They discovered three places where the dunes move at an unprecedented speed.

Researchers at the University of Arizona have discovered processes on Mars that have no analogues on Earth. Some Martian sand dunes are indeed moving around crevasses and craters in unparalleled conditions on our planet, says Science Alert.

Scientists selected 54 dune fields encompassing 495 individual dunes measuring between two and 120 meters in height and studied images taken by the HiRISE camera of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a US space mission from NASA orbiting Mars, on periods between two and five Martian years.

They found that the migration speed of crescent-shaped dunes averaged half a meter per year, about 50 times slower than some of the Earth’s fastest sand dunes. But in three places, this movement is much faster.

These three areas are the Syrtis Major Planum volcanic plateau, the Hellespontus Montes mountain range, and the circumpolar ergs of Olympia Undae and Abalos Undae. These three sites are all very different from each other, with two exceptions: they have marked transitions in topography and surface temperature.

On Earth, factors affecting the movement of dunes differ from those of Mars. For example, groundwater near the surface or plants growing in the area delay the movement of dune sand, say the researchers.

They found on the red planet another area with a higher rate of sand movement , but not as high as in the first three. They were ponds filled with shiny dust, which strongly reflect sunlight and warm the air, creating localized convection currents that move the sand.

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