Avalanche on Mars!

By Julianne Dalcanton | March 3, 2008 4:34 pm

Researchers at University of Arizona’s Lunar & Planetary Laboratory have just released images of major rockslides on Mars in progress.

mars_avalanche

That’s just plain cool. Phil at Bad Astronomy has more, as expected!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science
  • Pingback: curtis schweitzer (dot) net | Martian Avalanche()

  • Lawrence B. Crowell

    It would be interesting to find out if water is involved. Some ideas have water tables breaking through crater walls.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/julianne Julianne

    Lawrence — If you follow through to the rather charming blog of the HIRISE group, they suspect that the slide might also involve some of the ice from the left hand side of the frame. Apparently the Martian weather is warming at the moment.

  • chuko

    Julianne – how do you feel about human space exploration? After all, this is just plain cool, and I think that it speaks to something worthwhile in space exploration other than expanding scientific knowledge.

  • Lawrence B. Crowell

    Julianne — the BA site indicated the frost was dry ice or CO_2. Of course CO_2 can’t exist as a liquid on Mars, it doesn’t liquify in our atmosphere 100 times the pressure on mars.

    Chuko — putting human boots on Mars is really a very bad idea. Not to just mention the cost etc, if there is life on Mars (such as maybe in a water table), or chemical remains of early prebiotic chemistry, then human beings would contaminate the planet. Seriously Earth bacteria and other microbes would end up on the surface, and astronauts will leave behind a small mountain of garbage as well. NASA will not pay the cost for “packing it out.” Even if there has been cross fertilization of life from asteroid impacts on Earth and Mars, putting astronauts on Mars will represent a bio-perturbation. This is of course in addition to the huge cost, risk and so forth.

    Mars will be visited by robots for some time in the future.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  • Tony

    nice…

  • Rick

    “…then human beings would contaminate the planet. Seriously Earth bacteria and other microbes would end up on the surface,”

    With everything we’ve sent to Mars since the beginning of the space program, even though we take precautions, I doubt we can truthfully say we haven’t already contaminated the planet. That beiing said, I might worry more about what astronaauts would bring back.

  • Lawrence B. Crowell

    Indeed a bacillus or two may have made its way to Mars. The two REALLY big questions to my mind are the quantum gravity physics of the big bang and the other is the origin of life. Evolution tells us lots about the relatedness of species, but it tells us nothing about how it all got going. I’d love it if prebiotic chemistry leading to the origin of life was found “frozen out” on Mars. It might be a distant hope, but I would hate to think that we muddied up the data by having people there.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  • hero

    it looks cool, by the way, where is the rock ?

  • http://albatross.org Albatross

    Chuko — putting human boots on Mars is really a very bad idea. Not to just mention the cost etc, if there is life on Mars (such as maybe in a water table), or chemical remains of early prebiotic chemistry, then human beings would contaminate the planet. Seriously Earth bacteria and other microbes would end up on the surface, and astronauts will leave behind a small mountain of garbage as well. NASA will not pay the cost for “packing it out.” Even if there has been cross fertilization of life from asteroid impacts on Earth and Mars, putting astronauts on Mars will represent a bio-perturbation. This is of course in addition to the huge cost, risk and so forth.

    Mars will be visited by robots for some time in the future

    For sale on Craigslist: one spirit of adventure, like new, owner will sell cheap. Boyhood dreams also available, slightly squashed by hardbitten realism.

    While there’s no reason to wantonly imperil life on Mars, I think that we can plan for that in our explorations. NASA won’t pay to offship trash? Fine: how about a portable furnace in which to burn it sterile? Besides, even robots place Martian native life at risk, despite sterilization efforts. The benefits to exploring Mars far outweigh the risks, both to Terran and Martial life.

    As a hardbitten realist, you must recognize that Mars is not going to remain unexploited if there is any profit to ever be earned from it. It may be infeasible now, but in two hundred years? Four? Better we put scientists there now than leave it to the vagaries of fate and ambition.

    Had Europeans explored the New World with scientists rather than conquistadors and religious zealots, maybe we’d know a lot more about pre-Colombian American society than we do now. And maybe the needless deaths of countless Native Americans could have been avoided. The world would be a very different place had Europe been capable of a scientific rather than exploitative analysis of the New World. The same is true for Mars.

    You want to preserve Martian bacteria? The best way is to go over there and find it in the first place. Robots can help with that, but nothing compares to boots on the ground.

    And then there’s that whole Sense of Adventure to consider… you want to inspire another generation of scientists? Aim high!

  • http://yahoo wendy

    very nice, how about a close up so we can see the rocks. right now all it looks like is a cloud of dust, don’t get me wrong, that in it’s self is impressive, being that it is Mars.

  • Lawrence B. Crowell

    The picture is rather fortuitous. Since mars has 1/100 th the atmosphere of Earth most of that dust settles out pretty quickly. It does not hang around in the thin martian air very long.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  • http://www.physiology-physics.blogspot.com/ Amiya Sarkar

    The snapshot is much too clear. This leads to one of the two possible inferences: either the resolution of the photographs of distant celestial objects have increased dramatically over the years or the photo may have been doctored!

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