Nasa scientists have discovered movement in sand dunes for the first time on Mars. An international team of scientists has discovered unusual movement in the sand dunes. They claim that the discovery is really shocking because as is well known Mars has a very thin atmosphere compared to earth. It is only about one per cent as dense, and its high-speed winds are less frequent and weaker than those on earth.
Scientists discovered this with the MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.
In 2007and 2010, the HiRISE camera had taken images of Nili Patera sand dune field located near the Martian equator. Scientists compared both the pictures and found that entire sand dunes - which were as thick as 200 feet - were moving across the Martian landscape.
"This exciting discovery will inform scientists trying to better understand the changing surface conditions of Mars on a more global scale," said Doug McCuistion, Director at Nasa's Mars Exploration Program in Washington, in a statement. "This improved understanding of surface dynamics will provide vital information in planning future robotic and human Mars exploration missions."
To know about the movement in sand dunes, scientists had used new a software tool that analysed before-and-after images. The software tool measured changes in the position of sand ripples before and after two years. The images revealed that the ripples were moving much faster on the dune. By analysing the ripples they came to know that the entire dunes are moving.
"We chose Nili Patera because we knew there was sand motion going on there, and we could quantify it," said Nathan Bridges, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, in a statement. "The Nili dunes also are similar to dunes in places like Antarctica and to other locations on Mars."
Scientists believe that the new study will help them understand more about the mysterious Mars. They said that further studies need to done about the sand dunes on Mars. Probably that will help them know more about the sand dunes on Mars.
"Our new data shows wind activity is indeed a major agent of evolution of the landscape on Mars," said Jean-Philippe Avouac, Caltech team leader. "This is important because it tells us something about the current state of Mars and how the planet is working today, geologically."
"No one had estimates of this flux before," said Bridges. "We had seen with HiRISE that there was dune motion, but it was an open question how much sand could be moving. Now, we can answer that."