Pervasive aeolian activity along rover Curiosity's traverse in Gale Crater, Mars

Posted By News On February 18, 2013 - 4:40pm

Simone Silvestro and colleagues present evidence of dune and ripple migration over the dune field that lies along Curiosity's traverse to Aeolis Mons in the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) landing site.

They further estimate wind directions within the dune field through analysis of dune and ripple morphologies and atmospheric modeling and measured a ripple migration rate of 0.66 m/Earth year and dune migration rate of 0.4 m/Earth year in the southwest dune field sector.

Ripple and dune morphologies indicate a bidirectional wind regime with winds mainly coming from the ENE and from the NW. These findings show that the MSL landing site is an active environment with the action of the wind being the major agent of landscape modification in the current atmospheric setting.

Their constraints on the wind regime provide the unique opportunity to use ground measurements from MSL to test the accuracy of winds predicted from orbital data and make the first ground observations of a known active environment on Mars.

Simone Silvestro et al., Carl Sagan Center, SETI Institute,Mountain View, California DOI:10.1130/G34162.1

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