Click for full image.
Today’s cool image returns us to the chaos region dubbed Protonilus Mensae, the middle of three adjacent mensae regions in the northern hemisphere that I like to dub Mars’ glacier country because there is so much evidence of buried ice there.
The photo to the right, cropped to post here, was taken on May 31, 2021 by the high resolution camera of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Titled “Layered Feature in Crater in Protonilus Mensae,” the section I have posted focuses on several craters, with the one with the central mesa likely the picture’s target. Based on many similar features found in craters in this region, it is somewhat safe to assume that this mesa is made of buried ice.
The overview map below as always provides the context.
The red box marks the location of this particular picture. The numbered black boxes indicate cool images in this region that I have previously featured:
I’ve noted this previously, but almost every high resolution picture taken by MRO in this region shows some evidence of glacial features. The accumulating images above illustrate this point.
It is very possible that the mesa in this crater is not glacial. However, the soft look of all the craters in this picture, including the full image, suggest an ice-rich terrain with that ice close to the surface.
The global map below gives a wider context, for those planning their own Mars colonization project.
Click for high resolution version.
The two hatched lines at 30 degrees north and south indicate the closest to the equator such glacial features have been identified. The areas outlined in white note regions like Protonilus Mensae where glacial features dominate.
Where would you land? SpaceX is favoring Amazonis Planitia, because it is both flat and ice-rich. I might prefer western Utopia Basin, because it also appears ice rich, is flat, and is relatively close to glacier country as well as a very mineral rich region due north of Perseverance’s landing site in the transition zone between the northern lowlands and the cratered southern highlands.
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