Martian avalanches

This incredible photograph depicts avalanches near the north pole of Mars. Snapped by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, it's the first ever image of active avalanches on the Red Planet. From NASA:
"It really surprised me," says planetary scientist Ingrid Daubar Spitale of the University of Arizona who first noticed the avalanches in photos taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Feb. 19th. "It's great to see something so dynamic on Mars. A lot of what we see there hasn't changed for millions of years..."

The full image reveals features as small as a desk in a strip of terrain 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) wide and more than 10 times that long, at 84 degrees north latitude. Reddish layers known to be rich in water ice make up the face of a steep slope more than 700 meters (2,300 feet) tall, running the length of the image.

"We don't know what set off these landslides," says Patrick Russell of the University of Berne, Switzerland, a HiRISE team collaborator. "We plan to take more images of the site through the changing Martian seasons to see if this kind of avalanche happens all year or is restricted to early spring."
Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)


  1. Fantastic!! A few years back I spent way too many hours poring over images from one of the Mars orbiters for what became known as “seeps”….what looked for all the world like liquid water flowing up and out of the martian surface….dark streaks cascading for thousands of mile across Mars….found some unbelievable things, but damned if I can find them now. Different computer.

  2. Does anyone here know when we might see new maps and new globes based on the MRO data? I google this now and then, and still find globes with data from Viking. :-)

  3. Elysian, aren’t you the one who came up with that? You wouldn’t be trying to copyright that by any chance?


  4. I thought I was…then some wisenheimers came on here and were all like ” oh no…just Google Marsquatch, it’s been around forever!!”

  5. It may look like a Marsquatch stampede to the uninformed observer, but it’s clear to me that the giant face sneezed.

    And did you really say ‘wisenheimer’? That’s brilliant.

  6. I hereby declare sole ownership of the word “wisenheimer”…..but everyone please feel free to use it.

  7. “A lot of what we see there hasn’t changed for millions of years…” Uh, not too throw cold water on this event sighting, but how could anyone make such a stupid statement? “hasn’t changed for millions of years”, give me a break…

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