The strange dunes on Mars: Scientists discover ripples on planet's surface that could provide a window into its past

Mail Online | 6/30/2016 | Abigail Beall For Mailonline
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The desolate land that covers our neighbouring planet, giving it its unmistakeable red hue, has continued to surprise researchers since they began investigating Mars' surface.

Now the red planet has revealed another surprise, which could provide scientist with clues into the history of the world.

Researchers - Type - Dune - Mars - Underwater

Researchers have discovered a new type of dune on Mars that look similar to those that form underwater on Earth.

On Earth, wind and water passing over sand causes the formation of either large dunes or small ripples, collectively called bedforms.

Sand - Earth - Ripples - Dunes - Bedforms

'Wind blowing over sand on Earth produces decimetre-wavelength ripples and hundred-metre– to kilometre-wavelength dunes: bedforms of two distinct size modes,' the authors of the study wrote.

But the size of the new dunes fall between these tiny ripples and wavier dunes, the study found.

Ripples - Terms - Size - Morphology - Formation

'These ripples are different in terms of size, morphology, and formation mechanism,' lead author Mathieu Lapotre from the California Institute of Technology told MailOnline.

'First, the large wind ripples form at wavelengths that are intermediate between those of more typical small ripples that form from grain impacts and those of large dunes.

'Second - Wind - Ripples - Bedforms - Deserts

'Second, the large wind ripples do not look like any bedforms we readily observe in sandy deserts on Earth - they have sinuous crests and asymmetric profiles, and in fact most closely resemble current-ripples which form underwater on Earth's riverbeds.

'Third, we think that the formation of the large wind ripples, by analogy to that of current-ripples that emerge underwater on Earth, is facilitated by viscous drag exerted by the winds of the Martian low-density atmosphere.'

Researchers - Data - Mars - Reconnaissance - Orbiter

The researchers used data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Curiosity Rover.

They looked at the shape and spacing of the bedforms on Mars and found they...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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