Decoding the age of the ice at Mars’ north pole

Mars’ north pole incorporates a big cap made up of many layers of water. Like ice cores on Earth, these layers supply a tantalizing file of local weather on Mars over the previous a of million years. Step one in decoding that local weather file is to determine how these layers type and the way outdated each could be—a tough process to carry out from orbit.


In a brand new research, Wilcoski and Hayne used -resolution floor topography information captured by the Excessive Decision Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to try to chart the evolution of the ice over time. The researchers seemed on the roughness of the highest of ice—which a wide range of common ripples and ridges of assorted shapes and sizes—and used the to validate a mannequin that simulated interactions with the Martian polar local weather and that reproduced the tough topography of the ice cap.

The mannequin works by simulating how photo voltaic radiation can provide rise to the ripples noticed by the orbiter. It signifies that small bumps within the ice’s floor are inclined to to be exaggerated over time as insolation ablates the Solar-facing facet of the bump however not the bottom, making a sequence of ridges and valleys that grow to be extra pronounced over time.

As soon as the mannequin was in a position to replicate this conduct, the researchers used it to indicate that the resultant ripples ought to be about 10 meters throughout and 1 meter deep. Because the options age, the wavelength—the gap between every ripple—will increase, and the ripples transfer towards the pole. This conduct held fixed no matter whether or not the researchers elevated the atmospheric water vapor density or dialed it to zero, suggesting that the sample types no matter whether or not the overall quantity of ice is rising or lowering.

If the brand new mannequin is correct, the noticed on the ice cap at Mars’s ought to type in 1,000–10,000 years, the authors say, offering a place to begin for understanding the historical past of the planet.


Image: Avalanche season on Mars


Extra info:
A. X. Wilcoski et al. Floor Roughness Evolution and Implications for the Age of the North Polar Residual Cap of Mars, Journal of Geophysical Analysis: Planets (2020). DOI: 10.1029/2020JE006570

This story is republished courtesy of Eos, hosted by the American Geophysical Union. Learn the unique story here.

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Decoding the age of the ice at Mars’ north pole (2021, February 8)
retrieved 12 February 2021
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