For the first time, scientists have observed that the ‘megaripals’ on Mars – giant sand waves seen on the surface of Mars – are moving structures, not ancient remains stuck in place since the red planet’s distant past.
Megaripals, which also occur in deserts on Earth, are typically larger than small sand waves, and the chunkers that sit on top of their pieces are made of coarse sand grains, resting on finely grained grains beneath. We do.
The asymmetry of the crest of grains – with the very thin and misty winds of Mars’ light environment today – these scientists believed that these sedimentary structures should be stable and immovable structures. Not so, new research suggests.
A study led by planetary scientist Simone Silvestro of the INAF Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory in Italy suggests that Martian megaripples are a flowing phenomenon after all – although you’ll have to look very closely to catch them in the ACT.
By comparing the images taken by the HiRISE camera (High Resolution Imaging Experiment) on NASA’s MARS reconnaissance orbiter over many years of space, Silvestro’s team found that the Martin Megariples are definitely in motion, just a much slower pace.
Between 2007 and 2016, megariples at two Martian sites – Neil Fosse and McLaughlin Crater – moved at an average speed of 12 centimeters (4.7 in) per year, with a top record speed of 19 centimeters (7.5 in) per year.
At such a slow rate of displacement, it is perhaps no surprise that these shifting sands were thought to be stable – and previous comparisons examining structures over a short time period of only two to three Martian years failed to detect microscopic migration was. Now, thankfully, we have more investigative data to pull, taking a closer look at what is happening.
“We had the opportunity to see these megariples because we now have more than 10 years of observations,” Silvestro explained to Inside Science.
However, this is not the spec of our investigation, although it has been expanded. So we also have an understanding of what is possible in the atmosphere of Mars, because before that, researchers did not think that the winds of Mars would be powerful enough within the thin atmosphere to move the megariples – which are so large That they spread up to 35 meters. (115 feet) apart from the areas studied here (although the average is about 5 meters or 16 feet).
It seems that the air of Mars can move the megariples, provided it has some help. Researchers have suggested the proximity of large sand dunes located in the Nile Fossae and McLaughlin crater areas, studies of which may help shift the megaripals, providing higher amounts of sand flow to fine-grained dunes. Which can help to displace coarse grains. Megaripal insect.
Without such a level of “impact-driven creep” from the neighbor, other salted dunes may not be able to move other Martian megaripals, nor as fast herds here.
These megariples may be slow, however, due to the fact that we can see them not only representing a significant increase in our knowledge of atmospheric conditions on Mars – this is just some very impressive science at work. .
As planetary scientist Ralph Laurenz from Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in the research, reported Science: “We can now measure processes on the surface of another planet that are just one or two times faster than our hair grows.”
Stated in conclusion Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.