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Ice-filled crater on Mars?

Crater in southern mid-latitudes
Click for full image.

Time for another of the many cool images from Mars that suggest the presence of buried glacial ice. The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, shows an unnamed crater in the cratered southern highlands of Mars at about 44 degrees south latitude. Taken on October 2, 2020 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the crater sits at the very southernmost point of the Tharsis Bulge where the Red Planet’s four more distinctive giant volcanoes are located.

The crater is also in the middle of the 30 to 60 degree mid-latitude bands where scientists have detected many features that suggest glaciers, including a large number of craters that appear to have ice filling their interior.

Does the material in this crater’s floor suggest eroding and sublimating ice to you? It does to me. The second image below zooms in at full resolution at the north-south trench and the strange patterned terrain to its east.

Close-up on crater floor

I suspect this crater would fall into the concentric-crater-filled category, which is the label scientists have given craters that appear to be filled with glacial ice. The trench and the patterned material invoke to my eye the edge of the glacier, with the patterned material the most eroded of all. That patterned material also invokes one of Mars’s strangest geological features dubbed brain terrain.

Though scientists remain unsure the process that forms brain terrain, they presently think it might be related to the sublimation of underground ice. When the ice turns to gas, it breaks out at weak points, causing the random depressions between the knobs. If this is glacial material, covered with dust and debris to mostly protect it, that theory fits.

Interestingly, I posted a different cool image of a crater in August showing similar brain terrain on its floor that also happens to be only about 100 miles north of this crater. Same latitude, similar features inside a crater. Sure suggests there is a lot of somewhat accessible ice on Mars.


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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