Stunning ‘blue’ ripples on Mars reveal the way the wind blows

What appear to be ripples of blue sand dotting the landscape of Mars is making the Red Planet look even stranger than usual.

However, the striking color is not what it seems. To see true beauty, you have to look a little deeper than her makeup.

Filmed by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter earlier this year, the scene has been treated with so-called “pseudo-colour,” transforming distinct wavelengths of light into stunning paintings we can’t help but distinguish.

This optimization looks amazingly beautiful, that’s right, but it’s not just done to stimulate Mars a bit. Processing the data in this way highlights the variation in regions and features on the surface of Mars, giving planetary scientists a really great tool for understanding the geological and atmospheric processes that occur far beyond MRO’s orbital altitude.

Sand dunes and transverse Aeolian ridges in Gamboa crater on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

The area imaged by MRO here is the Gamboa Crater in the northern hemisphere of Mars. Filmed with amazing precision, each pixel represents 25 centimeters (9.8 in).

The smallest ripples on top of many large hills are separated from each other by only a few feet. At some point, they merge to form small mounds that radiate outward from dunes at distances of about 10 meters (30 ft).

The distinctive patterns of these medium-sized structures are easy to distinguish amid a sea of ​​large sandy ripples and waves, in the bright shade of blue.

Blue ripples Gamboa crater contextThe area in the center of the hole where these features appear. (NASA)

These medium-sized structures, known as transverse aeolian ridges, consist of sand composed of very coarse particles. According to NASA, the enhanced colors of the large sand dunes and CARs indicate ongoing erosion processes.

“Massive ripples appear blue and green on one side of the enhanced color segment while TAR appears as a brighter blue color on the other side,” a spokesperson wrote on the NASA website.

Blue ripples Gamboa crater Zoom contextCloser approximation to the context of ripples. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

“This may be because the TAR is actively moving under the force of the wind, removing the dark dust and making it brighter. All these different features can indicate which way the wind was blowing when it formed. Being able to study this diversity so getting close together allows us to see their relationships and compare features and compare them to examine what they are made of and how they were formed.”

Sometimes all you need is a little cognitive shift to learn something new… and gain more appreciation for the wonders of the universe.

You can download the image above in high resolution from the NASA website.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: