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Vendredi, 18 Novembre 2011 01:23

Martian Sand Dunes Caught in Motion

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Martian Sand Dunes Caught in Motion

A rippled dune front in Herschel Crater moved about 1 meter between March 3, 2007 and Dec. 1, 2010.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has caught sand dunes on the surface of Mars in the act of shifting. Images from the spacecraft show dunes and ripples that have been pushed by wind as much as 3 meters over the course of several years.

“Mars either has more gusts of wind than we knew about before, or the winds are capable of transporting more sand,” Nathan Bridges, planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University and lead author of a paper in Geology, said in a press release Nov. 17. “We used to think of the sand on Mars as relatively immobile, so these new observations are changing our whole perspective.”

The animations in the gallery above clearly show major movement in the martian sand formations.

Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz./JHUAPL. Captions: NASA.

Betsy Mason is the editor of Wired Science.
Follow @betsymason on Twitter.

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