Astronomers Discover Morse Code-Like Dunes On Mars

Posted: Jul 11 2016, 7:06am CDT | by , Updated: Jul 13 2016, 7:23pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Astronomers Discover Morse Code-Like Dunes on Mars
Credit: NASA/JPL University of Arizona

The dune-forms on Mars are extremely complex and it is difficult to figure out wind direction.

Astronomers have spotted several strange objects on the Martian surface over the years like a floating spoon, human like statue, space crab and critters. But they turned out to be nothing more than human perception as the human brain has a tendency to look for patterns, meanings and even faces in images. The phenomenon is known as pareidolia.

Now, astronomers have just spotted unique patterns on Mars dunes and these are unlike any other thing found on the Martian surface. The pattern consists of distinctive lines, dots and dashes and resembles a Morse code-like message. However, it is just a naturally formed pattern which is carved out by strong winds swirling on Martian surface. Usually, the shape of dunes provide clues on wind direction but the pattern appears so complex that researchers are confused about the orientation of those dark dunes as of right now.

“The “dashes” are linear dunes formed by bi-directional winds, which are not travelling parallel the dune. Instead, the combined effect of winds from two directions at right angles to the dunes, funnels material into a linear shape. The smaller “dots” (called “barchanoid dunes”) occur where there is some interruption to the process forming those linear dunes.” NASA blog says.


A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on

Dark sand dunes are among the most widespread Aeolian features on Mars. Aeolian represents anything that is created by the directions of the wind an the formation of Mars dunes have been a hot research topic in recent years.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has been doing an up-close investigation of these strange active dunes and is trying to figure out the interaction between the Mars atmosphere and its surface.

This particular image of dark dunes was taken on February 6 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera installed on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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