50-year-old mystery of Mars solved: What’s wrong with the polar ice on the Red Planet (photo)

For decades, scientists have been trying to understand why ice movement has not been observed on Mars, although it should be.

One of the first terrestrial features discovered on Mars was the polar ice sheets. Scientists expected to see this ice moving like it does on Earth, but this has not been discovered. For 50 years, scientists have been trying to understand what is happening on Mars. Phys writes that the authors of a new study published in the journal Icarus have found the answer.

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In 1971, the Mariner 9 spacecraft discovered the existence of polar ice caps on Mars for the first time. Since then, astronomers have been trying to understand whether this ice is moving. Just as there were suggestions that it was moving, new data also showed that it was not.

Spacecraft images showed that polar ice consists of complex layered structures. The polar caps extend for about 1000 km along the poles of Mars and are 2 to 3 km thick. These polar ice caps consist mostly of water ice. Scientists believed that orbital observations should show that the ice was still moving at a rate of 10 cm to 1 meter per year, but no such movement was detected.

The authors of the study suggested that the ice may still move so slowly that this movement cannot be recorded by the spacecraft. Polar ice caps, on the other hand, may actually remain stable.

Scientists initially put forward four hypotheses that could explain this:

  • the ice is too cold to move;
  • impurities in the ice slow down their movement;
  • The homogeneous mixture of substances in ice slows down movement;
  • ice has a layered structure that uniquely slows down the movement of ice in a way that cannot be seen.

Modeling has shown that the first three hypotheses still involve visible ice movement. And only in the second case does multilayer ice remain practically motionless. According to scientists, ice, which consists of different material layers, can be kept in place thanks to these layers.

The authors believe that ice consists of hard layers and soft layers in between. The pressure of the upper layers still causes some movement of the ice, but this is barely noticeable. Or perhaps this movement does not exist at all.

Even though the physics are the same on different planets in the solar system and some terrestrial events are expected there, local conditions still cause the physics to behave differently. How does this happen in the polar caps on Mars? Although this planet was once more Earth-like, it now has characteristics that are not at all Earth-like.

As I already wrote FocusThe Hubble Telescope discovered surprises for scientists around a star that exploded 50 years ago. Astronomers have obtained new data about one of the strangest double star systems in the Milky Way.

Although astronomers thought it was impossible for water ice to appear on the surface of Mars near the equator, a new study has shown that the phenomenon does exist. As written before, scientists Focusdiscovered water ice atop three volcanoes, including the tallest mountain in the solar system.

Source: Focus

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