You’ve probably heard about Morse code, the secret way to communicate using dots and dashes. It’s always being used in spy and action flicks by one person to relay a message that they don’t want to be readily obvious. Sometimes it’s used because that’s the only way they can communicate at the time.
It turns out that NASA has discovered a series of Morse code-like dunes that consist of dots and dashes on Mars. While scientists have noticed patterns similar to these in the dunes before, this dune field is unique in that it sits just south of Mars’ north pole, creating a much clearer image than ever seen before.
If you were hoping that aliens had a part in this, you’re going to be disappointed. These dunes formed simply because of natural causes, specifically, the wind.
NASA’s press release regarding the matter explains that these dots-and-dashes dunes are so distinct because they lie in a natural circular depression, which means there isn’t much sand to be moved around by the wind.
The dots are more mysterious than the dashes, say scientists.
The dashes are known to be formed by bi-directional winds traveling at a right angle to the dune. The dots, also called “barchanoid dunes,” are believed to be formed when a dash dune is trying to form, but gets interrupted. A phenomena that NASA is still studying, and part of the reason they’re interested in the area in the first place.
The images we see of the Morse code dunes were captured by the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera that currently operates on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
If you’re genuinely curious as to what the Morse code dunes translate to, one of NASA’s planetary scientists, Veronica Bray, did it for us:
NEE NED ZB 6TNN DEIBEDH SIEFI EBEEE SSIEI ESEE SEEE !!
While many will shrug off these findings as insignificant, studying the sands of Mars is important for us if we are to ever attempt inhabiting the red planet.