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What Are These Blue Splotches on Mars?

posted: 06/02/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
The effect of the winds of Mars
ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

Satellite imagery from the Red Planet reveals an unexpected topographical feature: seemingly blue pools of blue liquid, situated defiantly in stark contrast to the dusty red surface of Mars.

However, all is not as it seems. According to astronomers from the European Space Agency, whose Mars Express orbiter captured the photograph, the blue splotches are nothing out of the ordinary. The patches depict basalt-rich sediment buildups, blown across the planet by Mars' blustery winds.

The ESA explains that these blusters have a dramatic impact on the topography of Mars:

Strong winds whip dust and sand from the surface into a frenzy, moving it across the planet at high speeds. These winds can hit 100 km/h, enough to create giant dust storms that settle across huge swathes of Mars, lasting for many days or even weeks. As these winds travel they carve their surroundings, eroding and smoothing and gradually wearing away the planet's surface features over millions of years.

Click here to learn more from the European Space Agency

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