Landslides on Mars

Image source with more information
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter chanced upon this rare image of the Martian environment in motion.

Ingrid Daubar Spitale of the University of Arizona, Tucson, who works on targeting the camera and has studied hundreds of HiRISE images, was the first person to notice the avalanches. "It really surprised me," she said. "It's great to see something so dynamic on Mars. A lot of what we see there hasn't changed for millions of years."

The photo has significant implications for the study of Martian geology (perhaps more properly 'areology'), and is damn pretty to boot.


Geosomin said...

That is really amazing. Is the white on the left ice?

tinker said...

I wonder what caused the avalanches?

Nice photo though. Is the white stuff ice? The chocolate brown and frosty white stripes remind me of rocky road ice cream.

Pacian said...

The white area is carbon dioxide (or 'dry') ice that's frozen over winter and is evaporating as temperatures thaw. The lower parts of the slope are water ice coated in Martian dust.

What caused the avalanche is an interesting question. It's possibly due to water subliming, which would tell us something interesting about the water cycle on Mars.

Anonymous said...

That bit you quoted could have described my life for a while. I am Mars, with the occasional landslide. Just musing...