Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on March 4, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows an eroded mound that appears to have flows coming off its north and south slopes that fill the surrounding low spots, including half-covering a nearby crater.
The science team for MRO’s high resolution camera chose this picture as their April 28th picture of the day, noting the following:
The objective of this observation is to examine a crater which seems to be in the process of getting covered by flow from a mound. This image, in Protonilus Mensae, may show us characteristics of the covering material: could it be debris-covered glaciers?
Below is a global map of Mars, with this mound’s location in Protonilus Mensae in the northern mid-latitudes indicated by a black cross.
Click for high resolution clean version.
My regular readers will be very familiar with Protonilus Mensae, as well as the adjacent mensae regions Deuteronilus to the west and Nilosyrtis to the east. This February post about a different eroded mound in Deuteronilus, also surrounded by what look like glacial flows, outlines what is known about the many many many glacial-like features found in these regions of chaos terrain.
While it is not yet definitively proven that these flows are glaciers buried under a thin layer of protective debris, all the evidence so far accumulated points to that conclusion. Orbital ground-penetrating radar of these flows has consistently detected evidence of underground ice. Their features mimic glaciers seen on Earth. And their existence fits some of the more popular theories for explaining Mars’ long term geological and climate history.
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.
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