A strange new image of Mars could reveal a phenomenon also found on Earth

An image released by NASA on Tuesday (Mar. 6) uncovered some truly bizarre patterns on the surface of Mars. Scientists looking at images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) observed small clusters of boulders popping up in the areas between dunes.

The US space agency speculated that these formations were caused by “frost heaves”, a phenomenon that also occurs on Earth. Cycles of freezing and thawing underground water can displace rocks, leading to boulders and other material rising to the surface.

A close look at the images from the MRO, taken near Mars’s north pole, shows a sea of clustered boulders, neatly arranged.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)
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