Mysterious Mars landslides may be caused by melting ice and salt under surface, similar to Earth

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Feb 05, 2021, 09:10 PM(IST)

Mars (FILE) Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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Earth, too, has seen some similar happenings in areas such as the Atacama desert in Chile, parts of Antarctica and the Dead Sea

Even though Mars seems like a quiet and frozen desert planet a lot is happening on it which is not very evident.

Through the NASA InSight mission, the scientists have revealed that Mars is experiencing Marsquakes which is keeping the planet seismically active.

In addition to this, the planet has also mysterious Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) which has gained attention and curiosity from various scientists over the years. These RSL are similar to landslides on Mars but the cause of these landslides are unknown even now.

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"We see them from orbit by the dark streaks they produce on the ground and they tend to always occur on sun-facing slopes, which led geologists to think they were related to melting ice early on," Bishop, a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in California said.

It has also been observed that these mainly take place in areas with little ice. "The interesting thing is that they increase over months following dust storms and then fade away, and they appear to form repeatedly in the same regions. Also, a large number of these are forming in the equatorial part of Mars, where there is very little ice," Bishop explained.

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Recently it has been observed that these landslides have not been seen or captured by a rover or a lander. For now, the scientists are using lab experiments and Martian analogs on Earth to understand the origin and cause behind these mysterious landslides.

It is not just Mars which has been experiencing these strange happenings. Earth, too, has seen some similar happenings in areas such as the Atacama desert in Chile, parts of Antarctica and the Dead Sea. Scientists have observed that landslides and surface collapse have occurred in these regions when salt interacts with water or sulfates.

"Antarctica and the Atacama are excellent analogs for Mars because they are ultra dry environments," Bishop explained. "Antarctica has the added benefit that it is super cold. Parts of Antarctica including Beacon Valley are actually on par with Mars for temperature and aridity."

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