Return of the Bouncing Boulder: Debris After a Martian Landslide

The debris after a landslide on Mars (NASA/HiRISE/Stuart Atkinson)
The debris after a landslide on Mars (NASA/HiRISE/Stuart Atkinson)

Mars is far from being geologically active when compared with the Earth, but it isn’t geologically dead either. In a stunning visual study by Stuart Atkinson over at Cumbrian Sky, he has done some desktop detective work on high-resolution HiRISE images of the Martian surface and turned up some astounding images. One scene shows a huge chunk of material, slumped down a slope, but in the detail are the familiar divots etching out the tracks of bouncing boulders after being disturbed by the Martian avalanche…

Detail of boulder tracks down slope (NASA/HiRISE/Stuart Atkinson)
Detail of boulder tracks down slope (NASA/HiRISE/Stuart Atkinson)

When I first saw the images of tracks made by a rolling rock down a crater side last year, I was captivated by the HiRISE instrument on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Not only could this fabulous instrument resolve features of smaller scales than terrestrial satellites, it could find signs of recent activity on the planet. However, the fact that HiRISE can pick out the Mars Expedition Rovers from orbit, or see the frozen Phoenix Mars Lander, is just as impressive. The rovers are small, but HiRISE can even see their tire tracks from space.

Stuart Atkinson did a superb job at tracking down these images from the Mars Global Data website. Not only did he find the aftermath of a Martian landslide, he also picked out the tracks of boulders that had become dislodged from the top of a slope in Aram Chaos. Captivating.

Source: Cumbrian Sky

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