Thursday, January 14, 2010


Landslide on Mars

And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down ...
From the Bad Astronomy blog, now at Discover magazine, this caught-in-the-act image of a landslide on Mars. The landslide is marked by a cloud of dust about a third of the way from the image center to the lower left corner. (Here's a close-up.) Hat tip to Anita for the heads-up.

Phil Plait's header, Another Dose of Martian Awesome, pretty much says it all, but we can note landslides as one more thing Mars explorers and colonists will need to be wary of.

Related post: Mars also has whirlwinds.


tkinias said...

To quote Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomy guy): Awe. Some.

Thanks for sharing this.

Anita said...

It's those tendrils.

"Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine; it is stranger than we can imagine." Sir Arthur Eddington

We have so much to learn.

Rick said...

Welcome to the comments threads!

Those tendrils are pretty spooky, aren't they? They look like they are sticking up into the air, but I guess the patterns are actually formed on the ground, running downslope.

Anita said...

They look like verticle structures. Maybe a Martian equivalent to an ice volcano like the ones that form along the Great Lakes in the winter.

Mars is turning into an interesting place.

Ferrard Carson said...

That's pretty... well... pretty. And awesome. And lots of other adjectives.

One wonders how the landscape would actually react to terraforming.

~ Ferrard

Carla said...

Amazing. If this isn't a silly question, what sort of scale is the landslide?

Rick said...

No silly question at all. Apparently it was quite small; the linked post says that the cloud was 'a few meters' across.

I am really, really puzzled by the tendrils, or whatever they are. They sure LOOK as if they are sticking up, sort of like stalagmites. But if they ARE sticking up, tree sized crystals on Mars, that is a whole buncha awesome in its own right.

The thing about Mars isn't just that it is strange, but combined with echoes of familiarity.

And couldn't you see Dejah Thoris riding a thoat across that landscape? Well, some in this thread might be more interested in seeing John Carter. ;-)

Anita said...

Speaking of Dejah and John, John Carter of Mars is in production as I write. Due for release in 2012.

From my keyboard to the Big Director in the sky, let it a great popcorn flick.

Jean-Remy said...

From what I gathered from another site the tendrils are not sticking up but are sliding downhill. The angle at which the picture was taken is steeper than it looks, the tendrils are just sliding up the image, but down the hills.

Quoth Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer:

"The eternal Martian wind blows the heavy sand into dunes, and you can see the hummocks and ripples from this across the image. The sand on Mars is from basalt, which is a darkish gray color. The red comes from much smaller dust particles which settle everywhere.

But what are those weird tendril thingies?

In the Martian winter, carbon dioxide freezes out of the air (and you thought it was cold where you are). In the summer, that CO2 sublimates; that is, turns directly from a solid to a gas. When that happens the sand gets disturbed, and falls down the slopes in little channels, which spreads out when it hits the bottom."

Rick said...

It is an astonishing landscape all the same.

If 'John Carter of Mars' isn't a great popcorn movie, someone should be spaced, or disposed of in proper Barsoomian fashion.

Bernita said...

I had to do a brain switch.
It looked at first glance like nothing so much as chocolate pudding in a mixing bowl.

Rick said...

I can see that! Well, there is a Mars chocolate company ...

Jean-Remy said...

New Mars Bar.

Made from 100% Mars.

Anonymous said...

Jean said:New Mars Bar.

Made from 100% Mars.

Ferrell said: HAHAHAHA...


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