Mars has a roughly 4.5-billion-year history. Thanks to our robotic explorers, we have a good sense of its current climate and atmosphere. A new study of ancient sand dunes points to what it might have been like a billion years ago on the red planet.
A team led by Planetary Science Institute (PSI) research scientist Matthew Chojnacki took a close look a wind-driven dune fields in Valles Marineris, an area of Mars known for its extensive canyons. The dunes appear to have been preserved through lithification, a geologic process that turns sediments into rock.
The team published a study on this window into the martian past in the journal JGR Planets in August. “Based on the dune deposit’s relationships to other geologic units and modern erosion rates we estimate these to be roughly a billion years old,” Chojnacki said in a PSI statement on Monday.
An image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRise camera shows some of these intriguing dunes that now act like time capsules…Read more>>