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Bumps and holes in the Martian mid-latitudes

Bumps and holes in the Martian mid-latitudes
Click for full image.

Today’s cool image to the right, taken on January 6, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and cropped and reduced to post here, focuses on what appears to be a volcanic bulge on the southeastern edge of the great Tharsis Bulge, home to Mars’ biggest volcanoes.

The terrain gives the appearance of hard and rough lava field, ancient and significantly scoured with time. The bumps and mounds suggest nodules that remained as the surrounding softer material eroded away. The holes suggest impact craters, but their relatively few number suggest that this ground was laid down in more recent volcanic events after the late heavy bombardment that occurred in the early solar system about 4 billion years ago. Since it is thought that the big Martian volcanoes stopped being active about a billion years ago, this scenario seems to fit.

However, the terrain also has hints of possible glacial features, as seen in the large crater-like depression in the image’s center. Below is a zoom in to that crater to highlight the flowlike features in its southern interior.

Close-up of central crater

At 45 degrees south latitude it would not be surprising if there were glacial features here. Moreover, some of the impacts in the wider photo above have some resemblance to high latitude northern lowland impacts that look like they smashed into an ice layer close to the surface, melting that ice and causing the crater to have a splattered look.

These features however might not be glacial. The evidence is too slim, and requires more data. In the southern hemisphere the southern half of this crater would be more exposed to sunlight, while its northern half would be more in shadow. We should therefore expect the glacial features to survive longer in the crater’s northern half, not its southern half. Still, if these features are glacial then they do suggest sublimation of that ice by sunlight.

Questions upon questions and mysteries upon mysteries. It can drive you crazy with a desire to get them answered and explained. At the same time, making up explanations based on limited knowledge is very dangerous. Such hypotheses almost always turn out wrong. We need more data to really explain what we see here.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • making up explanations based on limited knowledge is very dangerous. Such hypotheses almost always turn out wrong. We need more data to really explain what we see here.

    What a refreshing attitude – not to mention a realistic one.

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