The martian streaks on Mars’ surface are now thought to have been caused by water which is rapidly boiling away on its surface.
This could be the reason that when you look at certain portions of the martian crust in its warmer seasons, you’ll see wider streaks than you would if you looked at it in the colder months, reported The Daily Mail.
The previous reason for the streaks was thought to be the existence of flowing salty water on the planet’s surface, but instead, the completed experiment showed that when water evaporates off of a sandy surface those molecules are participating in a process which will eventually lead to a martian streak.
Cosmos Magazine reported that a team of scientists led by Marion Massé — who is an expert in geology, geomorphology, and mineralogy at the University of Nantes in France — watched as ice melted on a sandy slope in the atmospheric chamber they were using to recreate conditions found on Mars. The team found that after their ice had melted the water was not absorbed into the sand, instead it boiled and evaporated, which caused sand grains to be thrown into the air and pile up. After the sand had piled up enough, that pile began to slide across the “landscape,” which is thought to be the cause of the martian streaks.
As Popular Science explains, the martian surface never gets up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit — the temperature needed to boil water on Earth –, but because of the lower air pressure on Mars the temperature needed to boil, water is lower as well.
Space reported the study’s co-author Susan Conway — who also works at the University of Nates in France, but as a planetary geomorphologist — said that “a good example is that of Mount Everest — the atmospheric pressure at the top of Everest is 400 millibars, as opposed to around 1,000 millibars at sea level, and therefore, water boils at 72 degrees Celsius [161 degrees Fahrenheit] rather than 100 degrees C [212 degrees F], meaning mountaineers cannot make a decent cup of tea. On the Martian surface, the pressure is 5 to 10 millibars, meaning that liquid water boils no matter what the temperature is.”
“The morphologies produced on the sandy slopes in these experiments are remarkably similar to the streaks observed on Mars. This process in which unstable boiling water causes grains to hop and trigger slope failures may underlie some of the active landforms observed on the Martian surface,” Discovery News reported Wouter Marra, who is a professor of geosciences at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, as saying after she had taken a look at the study.
Alfred McEwen, who is a professor of planetary geology at the University of Arizona, said that “Ideally you would simulate activities at a scale of tens-of-meters types of a lab set-up. Of course when you have to put it all in a vacuum chamber, that’s extremely difficult,” The Verge reported.
CNN reported in April of this year that Stephen Mojzsis, a professor of geological sciences at University of Colorado – Boulder had said that “impacts to planet mars long ago would have produced regional hydrothermal systems and could have also temporarily increased Mars’ atmospheric pressure, heating the planet enough to ‘restart’ a dormant water cycle.”
The martian streaks were initially “claimed to have been discovered” by a UFO blogger at UFO Sightings Daily named Scott Waring, The Inquisitr reported.
[Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona via Getty Images]