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Meteorite shockwaves trigger dust avalanches on Mars

ScienceDaily (Dec. 16, 2011) -- Dust avalanches around impact craters on Mars appear to be the result of the shock wave preceding the actual impact, according to a study led by an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona.

When a meteorite careens toward the dusty surface of the Red Planet, it kicks up dust and can cause avalanching even before the rock from outer space hits the ground, a research team led by an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona has discovered.

"We expected that some of the streaks of dust that we see on slopes are caused by seismic shaking during impact," said Kaylan Burleigh, who led the research project. "We were surprised to find that it rather looks like shockwaves in the air trigger the avalanches even before the impact."

Because of Mars' thin atmosphere, which is 100 times less dense than Earth's, even small rocks that would burn up or break up before they could hit the ground here on Earth crash into the Martian surface relatively unimpeded.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:35:31 PM EST
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