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Scientists using the radar instrument on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have now confirmed that the Martian glacial features that most resemble the glaciers seen on Earth are made of substantial amounts of ice, and were possibly active and growing only a few million years ago.
“Our radar analysis shows that at least one of these features is about 500 meters thick and nearly 100 percent ice, with a debris covering at most ten meters thick,” said Berman, lead author of “Ice-rich landforms of the southern mid-latitudes of Mars: A case study in Nereidum Montes” published online in Icarus at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114170. PSI scientists Frank C. Chuang, Isaac B. Smith and David A. Crown are co-authors on the paper.
Global mapping of Viscous Flow Features (VFFs), a general grouping of ice-rich flow features in the southern hemisphere of Mars shows a dense concentration in Nereidum Montes, along the northern rim of Argyre basin. Located within a northwestern subregion of Nereidum Montes is a large number of well-preserved VFFs and ice-rich mantling deposits, the paper says, potentially the largest concentrations of any non-polar region in the southern hemisphere.
…Processed data from the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft were used to search for basal reflections across VFFs within the region. For one in particular, these observations and analysis indicate that it is composed of nearly pure water ice. Model ages obtained from crater counts and their associated size-frequency distributions (SFDs) on both ice-rich mantling deposits and small lobate VFFs suggest that the deposits stabilized several to tens of millions of years ago in the Late Amazonian Epoch, and that small lobate VFFs likely formed due to the mobilization of mantling deposits.
This data here reinforces the impressions from many other places within the 30-60 degree latitude bands on Mars where many such features are found.
Mars might be a desert, but it is a desert like Antarctica, not the Sahara. Any settlement there must use the Earth’s south pole as its guide for construction and design.
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