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Stunning Image of Blue Dunes on Mars Provides Glimpse on Historic Past

Nov 18, 2016 04:00 AM EST

Is the red planet turning blue? Experts were stunned with blue dunes found on Mars. But aside from the mesmerizing colors, the cloud-hued dunes may also provide a peek into the planet's past.

These particular dunes are found on layered bedrock in Mars. And because the layers represent many different stages and times in history, unveiling each layer can provide new information about the Martian past.

The blue dunes were spotted in the Nili Fossae region. Light-toned sediments are evident in the images released by NASA and the University of Arizona. Looking at the image from afar, it can even be construed as a body of water due to the colors dominated by blue. 

From the image, canyons and bedrocks can be seen with interesting components. There were evidence of specific materials such as boulders and sands according to NASA. "This canyon did not form by fluvial erosion: it is part of a system of faults that formed a series of graben-like this one, but water probably flowed through Nili Fossae in the distant past," a NASA official said in a press release.

An instrument called OMEGA on Mars Express and the CRISM tool on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) managed to identify clay and various layers of sediments in the Nili Fossae region. The surprising thing is that the observed elements are typically a result or deposits from water.

The hue adopt to the minerals of the sediments. This means, the changes in color might be able to tell scientists what processes occurred on the red planet. The Nili Fossae region is one of the potential landing sites from unmanned missions to Mars. Scientists and researchers also believe that due to its peculiar and stunning look, the Nili Fossae region may also be teeming with science.

The bedrocks are sure source of information if NASA got to land another lander on the red planet. NASA is not the only space organization interested to study the surface of the ocean. Last month, a European Space Agency (ESA) ExoMars lander called Schiaparelli crash-landed and exploded on impact on the surface of the red planet minutes before its expected touchdown.


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