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Large wind ripples on Mars: A record of atmospheric evolution

Lapotre, M. G. A. and Ewing, R. C. and Lamb, M. P. and Fischer, W. W. and Grotzinger, J. P. and Rubin, D. M. and Lewis, K. W. and Ballard, M. J. and Daybell, M. and Gupta, S. and Banham, S. G. and Bridges, N. T. and Des Marais, D. J. and Fraeman, A. A. and Grant, J. A. and Herkenhoff, K. E. and Ming, D. W. and Mischna, M. A. and Rice, M. S. and Sumner, D. A. and Vasavada, A. R. and Yingst, R. A. (2016) Large wind ripples on Mars: A record of atmospheric evolution. Science, 353 (6294). pp. 55-58. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.aaf3206.

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Wind blowing over sand on Earth produces decimeter-wavelength ripples and hundred-meter– to kilometer-wavelength dunes: bedforms of two distinct size modes. Observations from the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal that Mars hosts a third stable wind-driven bedform, with meter-scale wavelengths. These bedforms are spatially uniform in size and typically have asymmetric profiles with angle-of-repose lee slopes and sinuous crest lines, making them unlike terrestrial wind ripples. Rather, these structures resemble fluid-drag ripples, which on Earth include water-worked current ripples, but on Mars instead form by wind because of the higher kinematic viscosity of the low-density atmosphere. A reevaluation of the wind-deposited strata in the Burns formation (about 3.7 billion years old or younger) identifies potential wind-drag ripple stratification formed under a thin atmosphere.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Materials
Lapotre, M. G. A.0000-0001-9941-1552
Ewing, R. C.0000-0001-6337-610X
Lamb, M. P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Fischer, W. W.0000-0002-8836-3054
Grotzinger, J. P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Lewis, K. W.0000-0003-3412-803X
Banham, S. G.0000-0003-1206-1639
Bridges, N. T.0000-0002-6790-6793
Fraeman, A. A.0000-0003-4017-5158
Grant, J. A.0000-0001-8276-1281
Herkenhoff, K. E.0000-0002-3153-6663
Ming, D. W.0000-0003-0567-8876
Mischna, M. A.0000-0002-8022-5319
Rice, M. S.0000-0002-8370-4139
Vasavada, A. R.0000-0003-2665-286X
Yingst, R. A.0000-0002-0628-4265
Additional Information:© 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science. 25 January 2016; accepted 31 May 2016. We thank the MSL engineering and science teams; the Mastcam team; Malin Space Science Systems, who made the rover observations possible; and B. Ehlmann and K. Edgett for insightful comments. Data presented in this paper are archived in the Planetary Data System (, and our compilation is available the supplementary materials (data tables S1 and S2). Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propultion Laboutatory–Caltech, under a contract with NASA. Work in the United Kingdom was funded by the UK Space Agency. D.M.R. was funded by the NASA MSL Participating Scientist program, and A.A.F. by a KISS Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Caltech GPS Division Texaco Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Group:Keck Institute for Space Studies, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA)UNSPECIFIED
Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6294
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160705-124124642
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Large wind ripples on Mars: A record of atmospheric evolution By M. G. A. Lapotre, R. C. Ewing, M. P. Lamb, W. W. Fischer, J. P. Grotzinger, D. M. Rubin, K. W. Lewis, M. J. Ballard, M. Day, S. Gupta, S. G. Banham, N. T. Bridges, D. J. Des Marais, A. A. Fraeman, J. A. Grant, K. E. Herkenhoff, D. W. Ming, M. A. Mischna, M. S. Rice, D. A. Sumner, A. R. Vasavada, R. A. Yingst Science 01 Jul 2016: Vol. 353, Issue 6294, pp. 55-58 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3206
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:68829
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:05 Jul 2016 20:26
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:05

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