Martian Megaripples: Huge Moving Sand Waves Spotted on Red Planet, Scientists Say

The new study reportedly suggests that the megaripples observed at two sites on Mars are moving at an average speed of only about 12 centimeters per year.

While NASA's Perseverance craft now makes its way towards Mars to hopefully further expand humanity's knowledge of the planet, scientists on Earth study a peculiar phenomenon that involves "moving structures" on the Martian surface, Science Alert reports.

According to the media outlet, a team of researchers led by Simone Silvestro, a planetary scientist from the INAF Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory in Italy, has managed to establish that the huge megaripples spotted on Mars are not static, but a "flowing phenomenon after all".

Having compared the images taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera between 2007 and 2016, the scientists have determined that megaripples at Nili Fossae and McLaughlin crater shifted at a speed of about 12 centimeters per year on average, with the top recorded speed being 19 centimeters a year.

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"We had the opportunity to see these megaripples moving because now we have more than 10 years of observations," Silvestro remarked.

The researchers also suggested that the proximity of larger sand dunes at both of the aforementioned Martian sites might help the wind shift the megaripples, "with the finer-grained dunes providing a high volume of sand flux that may help displace the coarse grains sitting atop the megaripple crests", as the media outlet puts it.

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