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Bouncing Sands of Mars Blow in the Wind

astroengine (1577233) writes | about 2 years ago

Mars 0

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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