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Scientists discover that mid-sized dunes near Mars’ north pole move

12 Jan 2022, 18:41 UTC
Scientists discover that mid-sized dunes near Mars’ north pole move
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Scientists using images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) collected over six Martian years (6.5 Earth years) have found that the mid-sized dunes dubbed mega-dunes near the north pole actually do move from year to year, unlike similar sized dunes elsewhere on the planet.
Megaripples on Mars are about 1 to 2 meters tall and have 5 to 40 meter spacing, where there size falls between ripples that are about 40 centimeters tall with 1 to 5 meter spacing and dunes that can reach hundreds of meters in height with spacing of 100 to 300 meters. Whereas the megaripples migration rates are slow in comparison (average of 0.13 meters per Earth year), some of the nearby ripples were found to migrate an average equivalent of 9.6 meters (32 feet) per year over just 22 days in northern summer – unprecedented rates for Mars. These high rates of sand movement help explain the megaripple activity.
Previously it was believed that such dunes were static planetwide, left over from a time when Mars’ atmosphere was thicker and could then move them more easily. This data however suggests that the winds produced over the north pole when the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ...

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