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Fresh washes on Mars?

Meandering fresh wash on Mars?
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Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on January 29, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows what the science team labels as “Fresh Shallow Valleys”. The section I have focused on shows a particularly interesting meander next to a small crater. The full image shows additional similar channels to the north, with one draining into a larger 3.7 mile wide crater.

The location is in the southern cratered highlands, at about 41 degrees south latitude, where much evidence of buried glacial features are found. That certainly is what we appear to see here. In fact, the wider view afforded by MRO’s context camera reveals many more such channels. That wider view also shows a much larger 18-mile-wide crater just to the north that appears filled with buried ice.

That the scientists label these fresh suggests they think they are relatively young, probably dating from when the most recent cycle of glacial growth probably ended. This would make them about 6 million years ago, based on this paper [pdf] and the second figure from that paper below.

The changing Martian inclination during the last 10 million years

According this graph, it appears Mars’ rotational tilt shifted from about 40 degrees to its present 25 degrees today about six million years ago. When it was 40 degrees the mid-latitudes would have been colder than the poles, and thus water would sublimate from the polar icecaps to fall as snow in the mid-latitudes. Glaciers would form there and grow, flowing down to carve channels such as these.

Since then those glaciers have been inactive. Scientists think (though this remains uncertain) that the poles and mid-latitude glaciers are presently in a steady-state, with neither growing nor shrinking.

Thus, any glaciers in these channels are likely stable at this time. No additional snow is falling on their upstream ends to the west, so they are under no pressure to flow eastward downhill.

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 available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can 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. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


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

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