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The Bouncing Sands of Mars

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the hop-skip-and-a-kuato dept.

Mars 22

astroengine writes "New analysis of high-resolution images of Mars, taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, show sand dunes in an area known as Nili Patera are shifting as fast as some dunes on Earth — despite a dearth of high-speed winds. Scientists suspect it takes a big wind to get sand particles airborne, but once launched from the surface, they bounce around with ease, thanks to the planet's thin atmosphere and low gravity. 'It's kind of like playing golf on the moon — (the sand) goes really high and far compared to what it does on Earth. When it lands it can pick up really large speeds — even with low wind speeds — and splash a whole bunch of other particles to keep the process going,' Jasper Kok, with the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department at Cornell University, told Discovery News. This research has strong implications for the understanding of erosion processes on the Red Planet's surface and for future astronauts getting caught in a Martian sandstorm, presumably."

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22 comments

When the first astronaut lands on mars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39948617)

...I'll be saying, "Check me out. I'm on Mars." I'll be on Mars then.

and splash a whole bunch of other particles... (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 years ago | (#39948635)

...you mean...like..running water?

Re:and splash a whole bunch of other particles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39948659)

Or a Shai-Hulud sliding through aforementioned sand.

Gay marriage and the Singularity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39948671)

Think about it. Do computers have a gender? Will the coming AI have a gender? By removing barriers in the law, we become closer to the Singularity. Of course, it's still one person to another. Three or more in a marriage means no binary trees (gotta nerdify this, right)?

You could test this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39949227)

Real science would be to test the theory...

Re:You could test this (1)

fvandrog (899507) | about 2 years ago | (#39952529)

Real science would look at the predictions that follow the hypothesis and see if they can be observed. Current observations seem to be in line with the hypothesis as postulated above.

Re:You could test this (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#39952815)

Current observations seem to be in line with the hypothesis as postulated above.

Not useful. Those observations need to be able to distinguish between the hypothesis in question and some hypothesis that doesn't have bouncing sand. I think that was the point of the grandparent.

Really Dr. Kok?? (1)

user flynn (236683) | about 2 years ago | (#39949483)

'It's kind of like playing golf on the moon â" (the sand) goes really high and far compared to what it does on Earth. When it lands it can pick up really large speeds â" even with low wind speeds â" and splash a whole bunch of other particles to keep the process going,' Jasper Kok,

So.. Usually I'd think an object landing upon the ground would exchange some of its energy with the ground, thus reducing speed (relative to the ground). Apparently on Mars, when an object lands on the ground, it can pick up really large speeds (relative to the ground)?

    Does this dude work for the fringe division? I suppose I should RTFA before commenting.... not.

Re:Really Dr. Kok?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951269)

When = By the time

It's sucky writing, but it's clear what's meant...

That must be one of the subtler things (1)

Gimbal (2474818) | about 2 years ago | (#39949543)

in astrogeology: Understanding the processes of erosion on the surface of a foreign planet. One presumes that it would naturally come if in consideration of the prospect of long-term habitation. Well, there is more to it than robots and photos after all, huh?

Correction (bad editing oper) (1)

Gimbal (2474818) | about 2 years ago | (#39949551)

One presumes that it would naturally come *up* in consideration of the prospect of long-term habitation - up, like the stock the prices of successful NewSpace firms, for instance.

Re:That must be one of the subtler things (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 2 years ago | (#39949871)

I think you mean "Areology" specifically about Mars. Xenogeology would be foreign planet study, but the Geo prefix specifically applies to Earth. Therein lies the problem with basing modern scientific parlance on ancient languages ;)

Re:That must be one of the subtler things (1)

Convector (897502) | about 2 years ago | (#39953713)

The most common general term is "Planetary Geology". Most of my colleagues (IAAPS; PS="Planetary Scientist") don't usually use the planet-specific prefixes that often. It's much more common to say "Martian Geology" than to say "Areology", or "Lunar Geography" instead of "Selenography". I suppose that it's slightly inaccurate (given that "geo-" does technically mean "earth"), but it sounds much more natural to speak this way. There's also the problem that you'd need to modify each geo- term for each planetary body, and end up with "Enceladography" and "Iapetology". And what do we call the equipotential surface (geoid) on Vesta? "Vestoid" is already used for a class of asteroids.

Re:That must be one of the subtler things (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 2 years ago | (#39958815)

Thanks for the clarification :) I was just being a smartarse (someone being a smartarse on the internet? NEVER!) Using Greek prefixes would also get tricky when you move outside of the solar system...

like Dune (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39949999)

it's the sand worms on mars

Think again... (2)

XiaoMing (1574363) | about 2 years ago | (#39950469)

This research has strong implications for the understanding of erosion processes on the Red Planet's surface and for future cosmonauts getting caught in a Martian sandstorm, presumably.

Fixed that for you.

Congratulations (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#39952655)

NASA has now caught up to where Science-Fiction writers have been for decades. They could have rung up their local physics department and asked them about the effects of atmosphere on the terminal velocity of sand particles.

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