World’s Strangest

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Martian Tendrils

Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy blog explains that the weird looking tendrils on Mars, as shown above in a photo taken by HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, as:

In the Martian winter, carbon dioxide freezes out of the air (and you thought it was cold where you are). In the summer, that CO2 sublimates; that is, turns directly from a solid to a gas. When that happens the sand gets disturbed, and falls down the slopes in little channels, which spreads out when it hits the bottom. But this disturbs the red dust, too, which flows with the sand. When it’s all done, you get those feathery tendrils. Note that at the tendril tips, you see blotches of red; that’s probably from the lighter dust billowing a bit before settling down.

But we know better don’t we, fellow Neatoramanauts? It’s obvious that Mars is not a planet, it’s one giant lifeform waiting to invade Earth.


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January 12th, 2010

Stranger to the World



  1. xznofile

    Phil: that description sounds incomplete. “When it’s all done, you get those feathery tendrils” why are the tendrils at the top of the dunes if sand flows downhill? (away from the top)

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