Avalanches on Mars

According to the latest study, the meteorites cause avalanches on Mars even before they hit the surface of the planet. The speed of the meteorites flying towards the surface of Mars is very high – it is actually several times higher than the speed of sound. With such a high speed, meteorites make shockwaves in the air and when the shockwaves reach the surface of Mars, they originate large clouds of dust which roll over the slopes of the planet’s surface and cause dark streaks visible from the orbit of Mars. The images taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter clearly show the dark slakes which, according to scientists, do not have a seismic origin, but are caused by the shockwaves of meteors flying towards Mars

To prove the theory, scientists have used a computer model to simulate shockwaves and see the geologic features happening on Mars. They found characteristic curved marks, called scimitars, exactly matching those seen on the surface of Mars. However, in the experiment, scimitars were not caused by the seismic activity that made scientist to conclude that the dark streaks we see on the images of the Mars’s surface are caused by the shockwaves of the meteorites flying nearby the planet. Mars’s surface is continuously hit by large number of meteorites. Having a very thin zone of atmosphere around (100 times thinner than the atmosphere of Earth), Mars cannot protect itself from the falling space rocks and meteorites that create more than 20 new craters between 3 and 165 feet (1 and 50 meters) wide every year. Investigation of the processes happening on the surface of Mars are of the large importance for scientists since the results will help them to make comparisons of the planets Mars and Earth and say what may have happened if the climate was different on Mars.


source: www.space.com