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Nasa releases images of landslide on Mars

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30 December 2015

US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has released images of massive landslides on Mars, which among other images, shows a boulder-covered landslide along a canyon wall.

The images, captured by Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, are relatively fresh as many individual boulders stood above the main deposit.

While several small impact craters are visible in the landslide lobe, they are smaller in size and fewer in number than those on the surrounding valley floor.

Nasa researchers say these landslides occur when steep slopes fail, sending a mass of soil and rock to flow downhill, leaving behind a scarp at the top of the slope.

The mass of material comes to rest when it reaches shallower slopes, forming a lobe of material that ends in a well-defined edge called a toe.

The striking feature of the image, acquired by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on 19 March 2014, is a boulder-covered landslide along a canyon wall.

"This landslide is relatively fresh, as many individual boulders still stand out above the main deposit. Additionally, while several small impact craters are visible in the landslide lobe, they are smaller in size and fewer in number than those on the surrounding valley floor," says NASA's official website.

It also says the scarp itself looks fresh compared to the rest of the cliff, with boulders and more varied topography than the adjacent dusty terrain.

To the north of the landslide, the scarp is a similar scar on the cliffside, with no landslide material on the valley floor below it.

HiRISE, built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp, Boulder, Colorado, is operated by the University of Arizona.





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