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Mars Sand Streaks Could Explain Away Flowing-Water Theory

Image: Mars Sand Streaks Could Explain Away Flowing-Water Theory

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/USGS)

By    |   Wednesday, 22 November 2017 01:05 PM

Mars sand streaks teased out in a more recent study could explain away the flowing-water theory that scientist have maintained since 2015.

According to CNN, the new study suggested that dark streaks discovered on the red planet, previously believed to be signs of water, could actually be sand.

The study was published on Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience and noted that the dark features appearing on Mars slopes, called recurring slope lineae (RSL), just resembled water seeping beneath the planet’s surface.

It was previously thought that this could provide evidence of water flow.

Closer analysis revealed that these darker streaks could be granular flows of sand and dust slipping down the planet’s slopes.

A team of scientists measured over 150 of the dark lines at 10 different sites on Mars, ABC News reported, and found that most of these lines ended with slopes between 28 degrees and 35 degrees.

The scientists concluded that the range “matches that of slipfaces for active Martian and terrestrial dunes, interpreted as the range of critical angles for which granular flows of sand can terminate.”

"We've thought of RSL as possible liquid water flows, but the slopes are more like what we expect for dry sand," said Colin Dundas of the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, per NASA. "This new understanding of RSL supports other evidence that shows that Mars today is very dry."

This does not mean that there is no water on Mars, though.

"There's still plenty of other evidence for H2O on Mars," Dundas said, per CNN.

"There is a lot of ice in the subsurface and at the poles, and deliquescent salts can draw water out of the atmosphere and form liquid under some conditions. The rovers have made several discoveries pointing to a range of environments with liquid water in the past, and there are hydrated minerals bound in the rocks. But there may be little liquid at the surface today."

Dundas said that further study was required before any conclusions were reached.

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Mars sand streaks teased out in a more recent study could explain away the flowing-water theory that scientist have maintained since 2015.
mars, sand, streaks
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2017-05-22
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 01:05 PM
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