Mars Has Petrified Sand Dunes Shown By Curiosity Rover

Posted: Sep 14 2015, 8:01pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Mars Petrified Sand Dunes Captured by Curiosity
Large-scale crossbedding in the sandstone of this ridge on a lower slope of Mars' Mount Sharp is typical of windblown sand dunes that have petrified. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
  • View of Mars shows a Landscape of Solidified Sand Dunes.

A panoramic view of Mars shows a landscape consisting of solidified sand dunes.

The surface of Mars is a desolate and barren one that also comprises sand dunes that are petrified to the core. The texture is like shale and craggy too. A panoramic view from Mastcam shows the surface structure to be full of ridges and sandstone.

The sandstone layers have been termed the Stimson Unit by scientists. It is a crisscross of sedimentary formations and it occurs on a huge scale on Mars, according to NASA.

The sand dunes seem to have been shaped by the wind. Similar formations are found in the southwestern regions of the United States. The dunes also point towards the direction of the winds that formed them in the first place. Mount Sharp on Mars has several layers of mudstone and each layer has a specific history and composition.

The manifold images were taken by Mastcam aboard the Curiosity Rover in the last days of August. The Curiosity Rover has covered an area of 94 meters in the past fortnight or so. It is headed towards the southern regions of the Red Planet.

Several sand dunes are still accessible to the Curiosity Rover. They are indeed a wonder to behold. A sample of the material got collected and analyzed as well. It’s been three years since the Curiosity Rover started pottering about the Martian surface. It has been the basis of valuable research.

The foothills of Mount Sharp were reached a year ago. Normally, we see such petrified sand dunes in Utah. But to view them in their resplendence on the surface of Mars is a treat alright. The crystal clear images that reached us aren’t earthly. They are Mars at its best.

The Red Planet – as Mars has always been known – is a source of curiosity and fantasy for us earthlings. Ever since there was speculation regarding the existence of everything from water to Martians on the surface of this planet, the excitement has hardly abated.

The sand dunes that were observed have turned hard as rock thanks to a fossilization process. The Stimson Unit used to be a lake once upon a time. This has increased the hopes of many human beings on earth that some rudimentary life forms may still be extant somewhere on or beneath the surface of Mars. The changes in the sandstone since ancient times may indeed have left a few carbon-based creatures intact.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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