Water Ice And CO2 Infected Mars' Strange Honeycomb Pattern

Water Ice And CO2 Infected Mars' Strange Honeycomb Pattern ...

This Mars landscape is similar to a lacy honeycomb or a spider web. However, Martian bees or spiders create unusual polygon-shaped features; they are actually formed after a continuous evolution from water ice and carbon dioxide.

Since 2006, the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has seen a tumultuous polygon shapes.


Above:Polygonal dunes on Mars as seen by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Both water and carbon dioxide, according to HiRISE''s science team, play a significant role in sculpting Mars'' surface at high latitudes.

Water ice in the soil has divided the ground into polygon shapes. Then, dry ice sublimating from just beneath the surface when the ground warms in the spring creates even more erosion, resulting in channels around the polygon boundaries.


Above: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, featuring spring fans and polygons.

As the near-surface ice contracts and expands seasonally, the polygons form over many years.

The blue fan-shaped properties demonstrate even more springtime activity in this polygon-covered area. Scientists claim that the surface of translucent dry ice is formed by vents that allow gas to escape.

"The gas carries along fine particles of material from the surface, causing the channels to fall apart," the company said on the HiRISE website.

"The particles are trapped on the surface in dark fan-shaped deposits. Sometimes the dark particles are pushed into the dry ice, leaving bright marks where the fans were originally placed. Often the vent closes, then opens again, so we see two or more fans originating from the same location but oriented in different directions as the wind changes."


Above: A detailed photo of large-scale crater floor polygons created by the desiccation process, with smaller polygons created by the thermal contraction inside. The central polygon is 160 meters in diameter, smaller ones are 10 to 15 meters wide, and cracks are 5 -10 meters across.

Scientists study polygonally-patterned ground on Mars because these features help them understand the recent and present distribution of ices in the shallow subsurface, as well as provide insight into climate conditions.

Polygons are discovered in Earth''s arctic and Antarctic areas, and the 2015 flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft revealed polygons on Pluto.


Polygons are seen on Pluto above.

A vast, crater-less plain, which appears to be about 100 million years old, is currently being shaped by geologic techniques in the center left of Pluto''s vast heart-shaped feature informally called "Tombaugh Regio."

This frozen region lies north of Pluto''s icy mountains and has been named Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain) after Earth''s first artificial satellite. The surface appears to be divided into polygon-shaped segments that are joined by narrow troughs.

Features that appear to be mounds and fields of small pits are also visible. This image was acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers).

Features as small as one-half mile (1 kilometer) wide are visible. The blocky appearance of some features is caused by the compression of the image.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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