Mars Shifting Climate Suggested by Dune Fields in Gale Crater

The Perseverance rover on Mars has received much of the focus in recent planetary news. Yet, data from the Curiosity land rover is still being analyzed to help researchers gain insight into the planet’s ancient atmosphere and potential habitability.

An international team at Imperial College London recently released a study, which examines the dune fields around Gale Crater and offers possible explanations for the surface conditions on Mars.

Looking to the rock record of the Stinson Formation, the team determined that the “strata were deposited by specific dunes that form when competing winds transport sediment in two different directions,” according to lead author Dr. Steven Banham of Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering.

Thanks to the Mars rovers, scientists are now capable of exploring the planet’s surface with greater detail than ever. As researchers continue to examine rocks and images from Mars, underlying questions still remain: Did the planet ever support life and can it do so in the future?

For further exploration:

Mars’ changing habitability recorded by ancient dune fields in Gale crater

A Guide to Gale Crater