- Possible signs of glaciers and glacial activities have been noted on the Martian plain
- These glaciers resemble the ice currents within the Antarctic ice sheets
- The glacial activity posed as a big mystery as the Martian terrain wasn’t steep enough to support the movement of ice flow
The Martian plain could become an interesting landing site due to the availability of water
Over the years, the possibility of life has been explored on Mars by various space organizations. Previously, harnessing water resources on Mars was announced as a major accomplishment for both scientists and the people on earth. Ever since scientists are trying to explore and uncover various other elements and resources that could establish the practical existence and sustenance of life on Mars. In a recent breakthrough, scientists have discovered a possible new type of glacier on Mars.
Discovery of the glacier on Mars
According to the latest study published in the Icarus journal, possible signs of glaciers and glacial activities have been noted on the Martian plain. These possible glaciers have been observed on the plains of Arcadia Planitia. The astonishing fact about these glaciers is that they possess a striking resemblance to ice currents within the Antarctic ice sheets.
Shannon’s team, who was involved in the study, noted several observations from different instruments, including photographs taken from orbit and thermal data, and tried to identify the sinuous features of low-lying areas of the plain. “The ice currents are something that could be on Mars and could suggest that more complex glacial processes have occurred on Mars, which I think is really interesting,” he said.
Shannon further commented that if ice is not present too deep underneath the surface of the plain, astronauts could have a source of water handy during future Martian missions. The Martian plain could become an interesting landing site, not because of the availability and accessibility of abundant water ice, but because of scientific values the site holds.
The strange glacial flow
The sinuated glacial flow apparently looked like they were ice flows. This posed a big mystery for the scientists because the Mars terrain was not steep enough to explain why the ice would be moving.
“We had to try to figure out what the heck are they, why do they have the thermal signatures that they have, why are they so bright in both day and night, why do they appear to have flow features, why are they channelized, why do they occur near lobate debris aprons?” Shannon commented
After further analysis, the noted features were concluded as glacial in origin. The curved shapes were similar to other features associated with slow-flowing material observed on Mars and data suggested that these spots were indeed rich in ice.
Controversy associated with the latest discovery
These newly discovered curved features sparked a little controversy in the claims. According to Shannon, ice streams on Earth need at least a thin layer of liquid water underneath them for lubrication of flow. It is unclear whether or not any subglacial water ever existed on Mars. There is no clarification on the necessity of a wet base for the flow of ice streams on Mars either.
However, there is one observation that hints at the possible answer to this complex situation. During the past, Mars’ orbit was tilted differently than its current axis which resulted in a change of climate. It is believed that subglacial melt could have occurred during the orbital tilt.
Shannon adds that ice streams could possibly exist on Mars and might throw light on the occurrence of further complex glacial processes that could have occurred on Mars.
“The next step is to investigate the terrain surrounding these sinuous features for more clues. Arcadia Planitia has never been studied except orbit, but it might be an exciting place to send future Mars missions,” added Hibbard.
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