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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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Martian Tire Tracks Explained
22 February 2000 7:00 pm
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Researchers have discovered what causes the dark, mostly straight streaks that adorn the plains of Mars. "We caught a dust devil in action," whipped up by the fierce martian winds, said geologist Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. He unveiled the image here Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes ScienceNOW.
So far, there were few hints as to the origin of the Martian stripes. Edgett dubbed them "SUV tracks," because they resemble the scars left by earthly sports utility vehicles. Now, after studying pictures recently beamed from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, he believes a blurry circle at the leading edge of one streak is one of the well-known martian dust devils in action. The minitornadoes kick up dust on the plains, he explains, exposing a darker material underneath that is visible as a streak. The picture even shows wisps, apparently of dust, "being sucked into the column," he says. "It's pretty neat."