Nov 25, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Tornado-Like Winds On Ancient Mars Were Created By The Impacts That Scoured The Surface

May 12, 2017 01:28 PM EDT

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Scientists found some strange bright streaks ejecting from large crater impacts of Mars surface While analyzing several NASA images. They have shown crater-forming impacts are generating tornado-like winds at more than 500 miles per hour. Compared to normal ejecta patterns, the streaks were created much farther from the crater and it was only visible in thermal infrared imaging during the martian night.

The strange patterns on Mars first took the attention of Brown University geologist Peter Schultz and graduate student Stephanie Quintana. By using laboratory impact experiments, geological observation, and computer modeling, they have explained how those streaks on Mars were formed. In the journal of Icarus, researchers described that the wind was equivalent to an F8 tornado and the next such type of wind won’t form until another impact occur.

Schultz collected the random images of Mars surface that were taken by NASA’s orbital spacecraft. Onboard THEMIS instrument on the spacecraft shows heat retention and cold spots in infrared images that were responsible for the tornado-like winds. Lead researcher Schultz said,“Brightness in the infrared indicates blocky surfaces, which retain more heat than surfaces covered by powder and debris. That tells us that something came along and scoured those surfaces bare”.

Schultz and his team used NASA's Vertical Gun Range in their lab to create the similar environment when a crater forms at planet’s surface. When an asteroid or any other terrestrial object hits a planet surface then it vaporizes tons of materials from both the surface and impactor itself. According to Phys, during the impact on Mars those vapor plumes traveled outward from the impact point at a supersonic speed and generated tornado-like winds on Mars atmosphere.

However, the streaks weren’t caused by the plumes because the plumes generally travel just above the surface of Mars, but when the plume strikes a raised surface then the flow gets scattered. The disturbed flow actually generates vortices of a tornado and those vortices are actually responsible for the scouring the narrow streak. Schultz and Quintana noticed that all of the streaks on Mars are associated with the raised surface. Although not all crater creates such kind of things, it also depends on the compounds around the crater surface and the chemical composition of the impactor.

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