A roving rock and its trail in Death Valley, California
I recently spent my summer as a NASA intern, researching something very mysterious in Death Valley, California.
It sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie: rocks that seemingly move on their own across the arid landscape.
Many other student interns and I from around the nation were a part of the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Academy (LPSA) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. We were given the opportunity to investigate these “roving” rocks at their location in the aptly named “Racetracks.”
Although nobody has actually seen these rocks move on their own, that hasn’t stopped me from formulating a hypothesis around the mystery. I believe that the rocks move by regelation, which is caused by pressure on two sides of an object.
No word on whether this hypothesis is accurate, but you can be sure that the odd natural wonder left a lasting impression on me.
—Leva McIntire '10