Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Super powered sands of Mars explained

It may be that Martian sand particles are a cut above the average. Murilo Almeida, a physicist at the Federal University of Ceara in Brazil is proposing that a process called saltation may explain why huge sand storms can be whipped up on Mars, despite the fact that wind speeds seldom pick up sufficient energy to power them. The saltation process is effectively a chain reaction, as dust particles crash into the surface, kicking up yet more dust. Using computer modeling, Almeida and his team found that sand grains on Mars have super powers, leaping a hundred times higher and longer than their puny counterparts on Earth, while reaching speeds five to ten times faster than sand on Earth.