Scientists spot earth-like snowy avalanches near Mars north poleNovember 8th, 2008 - 3:43 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Nov 8 (ANI): A team of scientists has spotted strange Earth-like snowy avalanches near the north pole of Mars, while combing through images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiters high resolution camera, HiRISE.
According to a report in Discovery News, Patrick Russell of the University of Berne in Switzerland led the team of researchers.
We were looking at frosted sand dunes, and caught the avalanches in action, Russell said of the images, which show large clouds of dust and snow near the base of a 500 meter-high cliff.
During the Martian winter, carbon dioxide frost and snow builds up in the north.
On the polar ice cap, snows can reach one to two meters (three to six feet) thick, and on the cliffs that border the cap they may be 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) deep.
When the sun rises again on the cliffs in Mars spring, the carbon dioxide turns from solid straight into a gas.
On the steep cliff slope, the bubbling gas could be enough to trigger an avalanche 100 meters (328 feet) wide, and roaring down at up to 50 miles per hour.
If you were standing near the base of the slope, these things would be pretty impressive, Russell said.
After spotting the first slide, the HiRISE camera took two more images and saw a total of nine avalanches tumbling off the polar cliffs.
These images show that theres more activity on Mars than we may have thought, Craig Kochel of Bucknell University said.
The avalanches look similar to dry avalanches Kochel has seen at Alaskas Wrangell mountains, where ice and snow mix with debris and come thundering off a near-vertical rock cliff.
When Kochel and his research team visited the Wrangells in the summer of 2006, they witnessed almost 300 avalanches in just eight days.
The Wrangell avalanches are similar to the Martian ones in that they are both relatively dry. Unlike many avalanches on Earth that are mostly snow, they are mostly ice. (ANI)
- Sand dunes in Northern Mars actively changing - Feb 04, 2011
- Frozen piles of CO2 on Mars may trigger avalanches - Oct 30, 2010
- Trees on Mars? - Jan 13, 2010
- NASA spacecraft detects significant changes in Mars' atmosphere - Apr 22, 2011
- Mars data indicate carbon dioxide snowfall - Sep 12, 2012
- Martian weather report reveals ice and fog near surface - Mar 18, 2011
- Carbon dioxide frost consigns Phoenix Mars Lander to history - May 25, 2010
- Scientists may have solved mystery of disappearing CO2 on Mars - Sep 24, 2010
- Scientists create first detailed maps of dry ice deposited in Martian polar regions - Sep 16, 2009
- Rare Polar Martian impact craters revealed - Oct 16, 2008
- Scientists find signs of flowing water on Mars - Aug 05, 2011
- New evidence points towards recent ice age on Mars - Aug 28, 2009
- HiRISE camera captures high-resolution 3D images of Mars - Dec 09, 2008
- Three more missions to Mars planned - Nov 24, 2011
- New find points toward habitable environments deep in Martian crust - Oct 12, 2010
Tags: avalanches, bucknell university, clouds of dust, dioxide frost, discovery news, high resolution camera, kochel, mars north, mars spring, martian winter, north pole, patrick russell, polar ice cap, sand dunes, snow mix, steep cliff, strange earth, university of berne, vertical rock, wrangell mountains