Mars has always been an object of not only curiosity but also fascination, a planet that is inhospitable but with the potential for life. A new image captured by the High-Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a mysterious phenomenon on the planet.
There are polygon-shaped marks on the surface as the spring covers Mars.
Mars has four seasons, which are almost twice as long as Earth’s. Spring lasts 190 days on the Red Planet, twice as long as on Earth, where the season lasts 90 days.
The image shows a network of patchwork of white zig-zags on the surface at high latitudes, with occasional splashes of black and blue haze between them. At high latitudes, both water and dry ice play a major role in carving the surface of Mars.
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According to the University of Arizona, which manages spacecraft orbiting Mars, the polygons are the result of water ice that has frozen into the soil and is breaking apart. The edges of these polygons crack in the spring as surface ice turns into gas by a process called sublimation.
Experts have also said that often the vent clogs up then reveals two or more fans coming from the same location. (Photo: MRO)
“The erosion of the channels that form the boundaries of the polygons by the sublimation of dry ice in the spring adds a lot of twists and turns to them,” the HiRISE team said in a statement. It should be noted that surface sprays and zig-zags are one of the key signs of spring covering the planet at high latitudes, when hidden reservoirs of underground ice lie against the dry Martian surface.
A layer of translucent dry ice develops vents on the surface that allow gas to escape and this gas further destroys the channels with fine particles of material from the surface.
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The university continued, “Particles fall to the surface in deep fan-shaped deposits. Sometimes black particles sink into the dry ice, leaving bright marks where the fans originally deposited.”
Experts have also said that often when the vent closes, then reopens, two or more fans originate from the same location, but are oriented in different directions as the wind changes.
The spacecraft also captured light-toned outflows on the surface that show chloride deposits.
HiRISE is one of six instruments from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched to the Red Planet in 2005. The camera’s high-resolution capability (up to 30 centimeters of image per pixel) remains unprecedented for any current orbiter in the study of the Red Planet, as well as to help select landing sites for robotic and future human exploration. Being an essential tool for
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