Alaska's Arctic sand dunes hint at hidden Martian water

Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Scientists poked around beneath the surface of Northwest Alaska's Great Kobuk Sand Dunes and found liquid water during the winter. That led them to think there might be liquid water beneath frigid dunes on the Martian surface, reports Red Orbit.

Scientists from Southwest Research Institute ... conducted fieldwork in Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska, when the average daily surface temperature was 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Data gathered by the scientists suggest there is a perched layer of liquid water in the dunes occurring just below the frozen active layer.

The team also noticed that several melt-water debris flows formed on sunward-facing dune slopes. At one location, ground surface temperature measured nearby was within a few degrees Fahrenheit of the thaw point for fewer than 10 minutes. ...

“Recent measurements of air temperature and pressure recorded by the Mars Science Laboratory on the Curiosity Rover, which landed in Gale Crater last August, suggest that liquid water potentially would be stable there during the warmest portion of each day,” said (hydrogeologist Cynthia) Dinwiddie.

Dinwiddie told The Christian Science Monitor her team also observed debris flows on the sun-warmed Alaska dunes in March that could help explain mysterious seasonal flows observed for years on Mars.

Read more:

Red Orbit: Alaskan Sand Dunes Provide Possible Evidence of a Watery Past on Mars

Christian Science Monitor: Mars sand dunes may hint at water beneath