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Two wedding cakes on Mars

Tall wedding cake on Mars
Click for full image.

It it time for two cool Martian images from the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Though both show features that are similar and likely had some comparable geological origins, they are located in two very different places on Mars and thus also had very different histories.

What makes them fun is how much both resemble classic tall wedding cakes, though the second has unfortunately fallen down and is no longer eatable.

The first, cropped on the right to post here, was taken on May 18, 2020, and is described by the science team as a “Tall Layered Mesa in Crater in Deuteronilus Mensae.” Deuteronilus Mensae is in the transition zone between the northern lowland plains and the southern cratered highlands, and being in the high mid-latitudes (42 degrees north) shows a lot of evidence of buried and eroded glaciers. Many of these glaciers are found inside craters.

What caused this layered mesa however to form is beyond me. It is taller than the crater in which it sits, as well as the surrounding terrain. A glacier would settle into the lowest regions, and would not last if exposed above the rim like this is. Its height suggests that the surrounding terrain was once much higher, and has been eroded away. Yet if so, why does this mesa also sit inside a depression?

The second “wedding cake” is even more intriguing, though less baffling.

Fallen wedding cake on Mars
Click for full image.

This image, taken on May 13, 2020, shows a section of layered terrain that appears to have separated from the cliff to the south and fallen over so that the layers are now tilted. This event must have occurred a long time ago, as enough erosion has occurred to soften that cliff. Moreover, in the full image we can see that the fallen section is located inside a large channel that has features suggestive of glacial flow that might have pushed that section away from the cliff over time.

This fallen “wedding cake” is also located in the mid-latitudes (37 degrees south), so to find glacial features here is likely. For example, look closely at the debris pushed up against that southern cliff. Looks like glacial debris to me.

The location however is within Hellas Basin, what I call the basement of Mars because it has the lowest elevation on the planet. Hellas has a lot of strange layered features, the origin of which are still being debated. Wind certainly played a part in forming these layers, but so could have either water or ice.

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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.

2 comments

  • Jeff

    The first image is another of those my mind sees as reversed, at first. Initially it looks more like an amphitheater, with stepped layers down into the center. Once I clicked on the full image and saw more examples of sun angles, the “wedding cake” popped into view.

    Hmm, maybe it’s time for new glasses?…

    Really enjoy these “cool images”

  • pzatchok

    Looks like a mud volcano.

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