Images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that there are special dunes on Mars that act like time capsules,media BGR reported. The researchers say the dunes are likely to be the same as they were about a billion years ago. Studying these dunes can reveal a lot about the planet’s climate history.
According to scientists who study sand dunes, they formed about a billion years ago. A new paper focusing on dunes has just been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. Obviously, dune fossils like this are quite rare, especially at such an extremely detailed level, giving scientists the opportunity to study what this part of Mars looked like a billion years ago.
“We found and mapped a wide range of dune farms in the Marineris Valley Gorge, which show clear evidence of petrified and buried. This level of preservation is rare for land dunes due to persistent erosion and tectonics,” Matthew Chojnacki, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Based on the relationship between dune deposits and other geological units and the rate of modern erosion, we estimate that these dunes are about 1 billion years old. Due to the size and spatial arrangement of the dunes, which are not much different from modern equivalents, we believe that climate and atmospheric pressure are similar to between contemporary Mars. “
The incredible thing about these dunes is that they act as a window through time. Depending on their size, shape and other characteristics, scientists can learn more about the climate and other environmental factors they form.
“The constant reshaping of water and structures on the Earth’s surface is not currently a factor on Mars, so there is an opportunity to learn from the geological record of the Red Planet,” Chojnacki explains. “The ancient dune field found in Valles Marineris reveals the richness of regional geology through its complex and diverse geomorphological shapes, preservation and background. These results tell us that wind-driven sand transport, sedimentation, and petrochemicals have occurred for most of Mars’ recent history, and show that the geomorphological evolution there is very different from that of Earth. “