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Eroded mound in Mars’ glacier country

Eroded mound in Mars' glacier country
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The image to the right, reduced to post here, was a captioned release today by the science team of the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It is located in Deuteronilus Mensae, a region of chaos terrain in the transition zone between the northern lowland plains and the southern cratered highlands that is also part of a 2,000 mile-long band that I call Mars’ glacier country. From the caption, written by Dan Berman, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona:

Lobate debris aprons are commonly found surrounding dissected plateaus in the Deuteronilus Mensae region of Mars. They have been interpreted as debris-covered glaciers and radar data have shown their interiors to be composed of pure ice.

The mound in this image is slightly removed from most of the other plateaus, and the [debris apron] surrounding it is highly degraded. The sharp scarps on the western and eastern sides of the mound indicate that a great deal of the ice once found in these landforms has since sublimated away, leaving behind these collapsed debris cliffs.

I wonder if further research might find an ice layer in those cliff walls, especially because this photo strongly suggests that much of this mound is made of ice that is sublimating away or has flowed downward to form the debris aprons as well as that central gully.

The overview map below shows its location in Deuteronilus Mensae as well as showing almost all of the entire band of Mars’ glacier country.

Overview map

The band that runs through the three mensae regions covers the latitudes from 30 to 47 degrees, dead center in the mid-latitude band where scientists have detected numerous features suggestive of buried glaciers. In these mensae however the detections are pervasive. Almost any image of any mesa shows features similar to what is seen in the photo above.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

One comment

  • Max

    The melting appears to be uniform around the Mesa, my imagination suggest that this was caused by a meteor impact at the center of the glacier blowing out one side, creating enough heat to melt the Mesa like an ice cream cone, refreezing a short distance away.

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