Strange Sand Ripples Found On Mars

Posted: Jul 1 2016, 5:42am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Strange Sand Ripples Found on Mars
Wind-drag ripples in formation on High Dune (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech via Mathieu Lapotre)
  • Scientists find Strange wave-like ripples in the sands of Mars

Scientists have found strange signs on the Martian surface. While they are not the work of aliens, there is still quite some mystery surrounding the phenomena.

No written notes from aliens exist on the surface of Mars. Yet there is something of mysterious proportions that has intrigued the scientists. It has in fact not been seen before on any other planet in the universe.

Images that have reached the earth from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Curiosity Rover show that there are wave-like dunes on the surface. Over the passage of time, these have become solid and rock-like in their consistency.

This research was spearheaded by Caltech and shows that the ripples were made by the wind. Certain strange quirks found in the Martian atmosphere made these ripples a possibility.

Such sand dunes are formed thanks to the wind on our own home planet as well. The Martian sand ripples are a whole different ball game though. The peaks on them are not as huge as those found on the sand dunes on earth.

Yet they are on the whole bigger and tougher than their earthly versions. Termed “wind drag ripples” they resemble underwater formations on the ocean floor.

The reason given for this is Mars’ thin atmosphere. The lower density of the atmosphere automatically increases the viscosity of the air. This results in the formation of these ripples.

Some think that while these features have only been spotted on Mars, there must be other examples of them on other planets of the universe. None have been seen up until now though.

The Comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko as well as Pluto are prime examples of similar phenomena, according to Gizmodo. Ripple-like features have been observed on the comet’s surface during the Rosetta mission.

Also the New Horizons space mission took beautiful pics of Pluto’s surface terrain and they too show a similitude to the Mars ripples.

It is not just human interest that these features induce in eyes of the onlooker. They also show how the Martian atmosphere got to resemble its present-day condition. Once upon a time, the climate of Mars resembled that of the Earth.

A thorough study of these ripples could lend scientists vital clues about the atmosphere of Mars. The Red Planet probably lost its otherwise thick atmosphere 3.7 billion years ago. The ripples date back to that period in time.

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