According to chief scientists, Mars once looked like Earth, even though the planet is now very hot and underwent major changes. Apparently, both Mars and Earth have sand dunes with similar traits. However, Martian dunes have something extra.
Mars is shaped by wind processes. The Red Planet is thus home to some huge sand dunes. From afar, these dunes are similar to what we can find on Earth. A new study carried out by Curiosity, NASA’s rover on Mars has revealed that there’s an extra ripple which is only present in Martian atmosphere.
Earth and Mars have different sized sand ripples, but Mars has something Earth doesn’t. On both planets, dunes come as large as football fields and consist of an upwind face and a steep downwind face shaped by avalanches. Arc- shaped dunes can often be observed by satellites in Earth orbit.
Scientists had no idea what surprises Mars still held for them. But six months ago, they noticed some small scale impact dunes. However, Earth’s dunes don’t have sinuous ripples, because they only form underwater. These ripples appear when flowing water drags particles, making them settle in a rippled pattern.
Another conclusion of Curiosity was that Mars and Earth had similar atmospheres about 3.7 billion years ago, and it may even be possible that Mars had liquid water.
The question on astronomers minds now is why did the atmosphere get thin, and how did that happen? For some years, scientists have been finding evidence that Mars was very different in the distant past. The features on its surface, such as dunes, clays, and traces of ancient tsunamis, point to the fact that the Red Planet once had liquid water in large amounts.
It will take much more studies of Martian soil and rocks, until the fascinating history of the Red Planet will be revealed to us completely.Scientists have yet to fully work out the details. But they’re on their way to understanding.
The Curiosity rover has been given the green light for another two-year extended mission to study the Red Planet. But since July 2, the unmanned robot explorer has switched to safe mode and ceased most activities.
Scientists are still trying to understand what’s going on with Curiosity, although this isn’t the first time it enters safe mode.
Image Source – Wikipedia