SCIENCE

Bizarre Mars Dune Pattern Looks Like A Message In Morse Code

Klaatu barada nikto?

12/07/2016 1:30 PM AEST | Updated 12/07/2016 1:30 PM AEST
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A newly released NASA image of Mars shows natural patterns on the Red Planet that look a lot like Morse code.

These dunes are influenced by local topography,” the space agency said in a news release. “The shape and orientation of dunes can usually tell us about wind direction, but in this image, the dune-forms are very complex, so it’s difficult to know the wind direction.”

As can be seen in the image, the pattern sits inside a large circular depression:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NASA said the depression is likely an old and infilled impact crater, which limits the sand available for the wind to form dunes.

“The ‘dashes’ are linear dunes formed by bi-directional winds, which are not traveling parallel to the dune. Instead, the combined effect of winds from two directions at right angles to the dunes, funnels material into a linear shape. The smaller ‘dots’ (called ‘barchanoid dunes’) occur where there is some interruption to the process forming those linear dunes. This process is not well understood at present and is one motivation for HiRISE to image this area.”

Here’s a closer look at some of the “code” in the image: 

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The photo was snapped in February by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

So what does it say?

NASA planetary scientist Veronica Bray translated it for Gizmodo:

NEE NED ZB 6TNN DEIBEDH SIEFI EBEEE SSIEI ESEE SEEE !!

Ok then. That’s it. 

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