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Evidence of glaciers in the Martian equatorial regions?

Equatorial crater with glacial features?

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on February 2, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and was labeled as “Exhumed Craters Exhibiting Concentric Fill”.

The term “Concentric Fill” is used by planetary scientists to mark glacial-type features frequently found inside craters at latitudes greater than 30 degrees latitude. This crater however is at 22 degrees north latitude, too close normally to the equator to expect a buried glacier inside it. Any ice at such a latitude is expected to be underground and well protected. A debris covered glacier would likely sublimate away, which I think is why the scientists labeled this “exhumed.” Though there are the concentric features near its inside rim as well as covered by the sand dunes on the crater’s floor, they are assuming this is only evidence of past ice, no longer there. This assumption is strengthened by the splattered but eroded nature of the surrounding terrain. Such splats are typical of high latitude impacts in regions with ample buried ice. The eroded nature of this splat however suggests it is very old and has likely lost its ice.

Then again, this is an assumption.

Overview map
Click for the high resolution global map of Mars.

The overview map marks the location of this crater by the white cross, placing it about 300 miles south of the solar system’s largest known canyon, Valles Marineris. This map also shows that the crater is at a high elevation on the volcanic Tharsis Rise. Could that high elevation help preserve buried ice because of the generally colder climate? Maybe, but the high elevation also means more sunlight and thus more radiation to help sublimate that ice. If there is buried ice here however it will expand the regions on Mars where water will be readily available, merely by digging.

The overview map to the right also provides a global view of Mars, something I have not posted enough. It thus provides the larger context for my readers, who normally don’t get to see maps of the whole planet in my many cool image posts. It also can provide a nice geography lesson for those who wish to gain a better global sense of Mars, as presently understood. If you want to look at the map at full resolution, click on the overview image.

The map not only names most of the major features on the planet, it also marks with white borders the regions above 30 degrees latitude on Mars where scientists have detected evidence of many glaciers or buried ice. In addition it notes the landing spots for all the successful past rovers and landers, as well as the landing zones for future rovers, landers, and even manned spacecraft (specifically SpaceX’s Starship).

For those interested in figuring out the places on Mars to build those first colonies, whether you are an engineer or science fiction writer, this map will be very useful. Feel free to distribute, with the only requirement I ask is that you credit me and Behind the Black.

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

  • Ian C.

    “If there is buried ice here however it will expand the regions on Mars where water will be readily available, merely by digging.”

    That would be great for future colonizing attempts. It might also reduce future competition among (state and private) powers over prime locations.

    And thanks for the map, Bob.

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