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Martian vent or sink?

A Martian vent or sink?
Click for original image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, rotated, cropped, reduced, and enhanced to post here, was taken on January 29, 2024 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Though the scientists label this image showing “channels”, what I see is either a vent or a sink, with the channels to the south indicating past flows either coming out of the depression or into it. The uncertainty exists because the surface grade in this region is essentially flat. There is a lot of small up and down variations, but overall it is very difficult to determine the general trend, suggesting that when the depression and channels formed the grade was different, and there is no way from this data to determine the angle at that time.

Were the flows that created the channels lava or water or ice? Knowing the grade when these channels formed would help answer this question, but other research now suggests the latter.

Overview map

The white dot on the overview map marks the location, with the warped outline at the center top of the inset indicating the approximate area covered by the picture above. The other rectangle on the left is the area covered by a previous cool image from January 2017, showing a similar depression with channels extending southward. If you look close at the inset you will see that the channels for both depressions extend a considerable distance south, and appear braided with many tributaries separating and then recombining.

This region of channels and cracks is all considered part of a system dubbed Hebrus Valles, where earlier research has suggested that glaciers and ice sheets might have contributed to form these features.

In other words, even though this is now in the dry equatorial regions, some scientists belief that in the far past when Mars was wetter this region was shaped by slowly moving ice sheets and glaciers. One can’t help wondering however if lava and volcanic processes also contributed.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

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