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Ancient Impacts on Mars Created Tornado-Like Winds That Rubbed Surface
|Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University|
In looking at NASA images of Mars a couple of years prior, Brown University geologist Peter Schultz saw sets of strange splendid streaks radiating from a couple of large impact craters on the planet’s surface. The streaks are odd in that they develop significantly more remote from the craters than ordinary ejecta patterns, and they are just visible in warm infrared images taken amid the Martian night.
“This would resemble a F8 tornado sweeping across the surface,” Schultz said. “These are winds on Mars that will never be seen again unless another impact.”
“You couldn’t see these things at all in visible wavelength images, however in the evening time infrared they’re brilliant,” Schultz said. “Brightness in the infrared indicates blocky surfaces, which hold more warmth than surfaces secured by powder and debris. That tells us that something went along and scoured those surfaces uncovered.”
“We had been seeing some things in experiments we thought may cause these streaks,” he said.
“Where these vortices experience the surface, they sweep away the small particles that sit loosely on the surface, exposing the greater blocky material underneath, and that is the thing that gives us these streaks,” Schultz said.
“We know these shaped at the same time as these large craters, and we can date the age of the craters,” Schultz said. “So now we have a layout for taking a gander at erosion.”
“The following step is to truly delve into the conditions that cause the streaks,” Schultz said. “They may have a considerable measure to let us know, so stay tuned.”