Ghost dunes on Mars


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Scientists have found Martian pits formed by the leftover remains of dunes that long ago blew away.

Scientists have discovered hundreds of crescent-shaped pits on Mars where sand dunes the size of the U.S. Capitol stood billions of years ago. The curves of these ancient dune impressions record the direction of prevailing winds on the Red Planet, providing potential clues to Mars’s past climate, and may hold evidence of ancient life, according to a new study detailing the findings in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

Ghost dunes are the negative space left behind by long-vanished sand dunes. Lava or water-borne sediments partially buried the dunes and hardened, preserving the dunes’ contours. Wind subsequently blew sand off the exposed tops and scoured it out from inside, leaving a solid mold in the shape of the lost dune.

The claim that these geological features “may hold evidence of ancient life” is pure hyperbole, and absurd. However, the features are important because they will help date the sediment or lava flows around them, while also providing markers to help understand the history of the Martian climate.

Share

One comment

  • Localfluff

    “hyperbole” Oh yeah!
    We’ve found a pit on Mars. That might be proof of life! This systematic hyperbole has made it difficult to draw any attention to real scientific findings. That “boring” slowly building and well founded understanding of how geology and weather works differently on Mars than on Earth. Which could be very important to the understanding of what is going on down here in our garden of Eden.

    At least this kind of “fake science news” makes it very easy to discern between scientists and pathetic sensationalists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *