For decades, the origin and shape of the Martian Arctic Ice Canyon System has puzzled astronomers.Now they have discovered that the erosion process behind this giant structure is one of the largest and youngest in the solar system. In situ And wind energy transportation of frozen materials.
A survey led by researchers from the United States Planetary Science Institute (PSI)In collaboration with other universities in Pardue and Arizona (also in the US) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, explained the origin of the system Spiral cannon Dig in the ice of pNorth of Mars.The research was published in the journal Scientific report.
These canyons have been studied by many scientists, who have associated their distribution with the sublimation process, which directly transforms ice from solid to gaseous state, but for decades, its origin and unique spiral shape have been a mystery.
Now, according to the author of this new work, these huge ice depressions have erosion In situThe total volume of its excavations is 10 times that of the Grand Canyon of Colorado, which makes it one of the largest and youngest geological giant structures in the solar system.
He pointed out: “The spiral pattern appeared due to the intersection of the canyons. As the canyon grows, they intersect in the dome-shaped geometric shape of the dome.” Jose Alexis Palmero Rodriguez, The PSI researcher responsible for this research.
A large amount of excavated ice should be carried by the wind and deposited in the middle latitudes in the form of mantle, and even preserved in alpine glaciers at lower latitudes.
The co-author explained: “Our research shows that the canyon is formed by the loss of ice flow caused by the Kataba wind, which descends from high altitudes and exposes ancient ice on the polar surface.” Ali M.Bramson, Researcher at Purdue University.
A digital elevation model of the north pole cap of Mars, showing the spiral canyon system. The red dots indicate the locations of 424 hills and depressions, in which a series of concentric layers are evident, indicating that in-situ erosion has been generalized. To compare the size, the Balearic Islands are shown. The picture on the right shows the details of the eastern part of the canyon system (top), which is about the same size as the bottom of the Colorado Canyon (bottom). / MOLA Science Group, MSS, JPL, NASA / Google Earth
“The cannon formed Between a few million years to 50,000 years, During a period of time when Mars has been in a frozen state.Therefore, this ice may be caused by Anti-sublimationInstead of becoming liquid”, he explained Mario Zarroca, A researcher at the Department of Geology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a co-author of the study.
He added: “This makes this piece of ice no longer a candidate for possible signs of life.” But for the same reason, it can be regarded as a possible “pure” water resource for future colonization missions to Mars. use. Considering that the estimated amount of ice is twice that of the Baltic Sea, the availability of this resource can be guaranteed on the earth for a long time.”
Zarroca emphasized another major implication of this research: “These canyons have been able to expose Paleoclimate record It can last for hundreds of millions of years and can help to better understand the great changes that Mars has undergone throughout its history, such as the evolution of its atmosphere and hydrosphere.”
Ice in the Age of Dinosaurs
For comparison, the oldest ice record on Earth is no more than 3 million years old. “It has been recorded for hundreds of millions of years. This allows us to study the ice when the dinosaurs were still living on Earth. This may help solve the unknown events surrounding the mass extinction. About 66 years and a million years ago”, Palmero Pointed out.
The researchers concluded that a record as extensive as the record exposed at the extreme top of Mars provides a good opportunity to learn more about the evolution of this planet, which is very similar to our planet.
Rodríguez, JAP, Tanaka, KT, Bramson, AM, Leonard, GJ, Baker, VR, Zarroca, M.. Scientific report, 2021