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.
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.
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