A Pit Spotted On Mars Has Scientists Scratching Their Heads


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES)

A Pit Spotted On Mars Has Scientists Scratching Their Heads

I write about weather and climate related topics (and study them too)

I normally write about the weather and climate of Earth. I write about Earth’s climate because as the American Meteorological Society reminds us in its statement on climate change

Prudence dictates extreme care in accounting for our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life

As a former NASA scientist, I am also fascinated by the weather and climate of our neighboring planets.  There are many lessons about Earth’s climate provided by them. This weekend my attention was caught by a stunning new image of Mars released by NASA. As you look at the image, the obvious question is, “what is that large pit or depression?”

A mysterious pit recently observed on the southern hemisphere of Mars.

NASA JPL/CalTech

A mysterious pit recently observed on Martian surface in its Southern Hemisphere. (Source: NASA JPL/Cal Tech/U. of Arizona)

Before boring deeper into this question (and yes I was trying to be cute….”boring into the pit”….get it? Ok, I digress), I want to explore some of the other features in the image. The image is provided by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). According to NASA’s website, MRO was launched in 2005 to

search for evidence that water persisted on the surface of Mars for a long period of time. While other Mars missions have shown that water flowed across the surface in Mars’ history, it remains a mystery whether water was ever around long enough to provide a habitat for life.

MRO has one of the largest cameras ever to fly on a planetary mission, which enables unprecedented looks at features on the surface of the planet (like the dust devil below). And if you want to check out something really cool, click this link for weekly weather reports and images from Mars provided by the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) on MRO. You are welcome!

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter capturing a dust devil in 2012. Source: NASA

NASA SVS

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter capturing a dust devil in 2012. Source: NASA GSFC/SVS

Like Earth, Mars has polar ice caps. Unlike Earth, the polar ice caps on Mars are a combination of carbon dioxide and water ice. The University of Arizona’s Phoenix Mars Mission website is a great source of information on Martian polar caps. The website notes

Carbon dioxide is an atmospheric gas made of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. In its frozen, solid state, carbon dioxide is known as dry ice. Rather than melting into liquid carbon dioxide, like water ice melts into liquid water, dry ice sublimates directly into carbon dioxide gas when the temperature reaches about -79 degrees C (-110 degrees F).

This is where things take a very different turn than Earth. During Martian summer, the carbon dioxide ice undergoes the process of sublimation (solid phase to vapor). During the winter, it becomes a solid again. Fall cloud cover starts the winter season ice cap growth.

The HI-RISE instrument on MRO took the image above during late summer season in the Martian Southern Hemisphere. The “swiss cheese” looking pattern shows the residual of bare surface and “dry ice.” The low sun angle allows MRO to detect very detailed views of the surface topography and that strange “pit.” One possibility is the pit is an impact crater. Things impact Mars, Earth, and the moon all of the time. A recent paper in Nature Geosciences documents some interesting details of the bombardment history of Mars. Another theory is that the depression may be a collapse pit.

There is no conclusive answer at this point on what it may be according to Lisa May, formerly Lead Program Executive for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters. May is the founder and CEO of Murphian Consulting LLC. She provides planning, execution, and systems engineering services to clients ranging from tech startups to the UAE Space Agency. She messaged me the context of these fascinating missions

Right now, there are six operating spacecraft in orbit around Mars—two from Europe, one from India, and three NASA ones. NASA’s most recent orbiter, MAVEN, was launched in 2013 to learn how Mars lost its atmosphere, and the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter is currently aerobraking into its final orbit where it will study Mars’ atmospheric composition.

May also added the MRO has been sending stunning high-resolution images of Mars for over a decade, but she is quick to point out another part of its mission

Besides supporting Mars science, the images are used to select landing sites for rovers and landers.

 

Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Dir., Atmospheric Sciences Program/GA Athletic Assoc. Distinguished Professor (Univ of Georgia), Host, Weather Channel’s Sunday Talk Show, Weather (Wx) Geeks, 2013 AMS President

Comment on this story please.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow me on Twitter

Social

Follow Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world on WordPress.com
oldpoet56

oldpoet56

truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.

View Full Profile →

STOP ANIMAL ABUSE

Sharing News, Views & Petitions Regards Animal Abuse. Plus Various Animal Stories From Around The World

Kamus Istilah

Yang Pernah Mbuat Aku Bingung

The Belgian Reviewer

The place to discover fine new books to read

Captain's Quarters

Exploring sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult novels.

Lex and Neek

Journeys into Fun

UNLIMBITED TREE SERVICE, INC.

Unlimbited Tree Service was started with one goal in mind: To enhance the beauty and value of residential and commercial properties while ensuring the safety of their occupants. With Unlimbited, you know that you're getting the very best.

মুক্তি মুন্না

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

Love is a name

Love starts right now

Universul astral

"Dubito, ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum."_ René Descartes

Jurnalul Canapelei Rosii

rateuri literare

fictionandpoetry2016

Be where your heart belongs...

Amras888

One voice amongst many. Observing and participating in the great transformation of humanity from a positive perspective.

Cadmus38

looking for the adventure in life

headintheclouds746

Beauty is all around you

prieteni virtuali

Pastreaza in sufletul tau , doar momentele frumoase si langa tine doar oamenii, care te pretuiesc cu adevarat!

doar, o viaţă

eu trăiesc, când să fiu supărat

Following Him Beside Still Waters

He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

PoemasemFotoswordpress.com

Just another WordPress.com site

Shezza Speak!

because life in NYC is too noteworthy to be silent!

MERMAID IN A MUDSLIDE

Musings on this crazy, wonderful life...

Piggie's Place

Random Oinks in the Dark

Cryptosmith

Cybersecurity education and service

Smatters

Matters of the Smith-Atwood family

Neurodivergent Rebel

Rebelling against a culture that values assimilation over individuality.

The Platinum Dragon

Political Commentary, Short Stories, & Poetry

Try to get it!

A blog about Qoran and Islam

Cathedral made of people

What is the Church?

Daily Inspiration

Follow your dreams

Energy Management

Trending Technology Renewables

LA PAGINA DI NONNATUTTUA

La strada giusta è quel sentiero che parte dal Cuore e arriva ovunque

Poems, Melodies, and Me

A Sentimental Journey

UrbanaRoman

ASOCIATIA PENTRU ANTROPOLOGIE URBANA DIN ROMAN

territori del '900

identità luoghi scritture del '900 toscano

brushes and papers

my learning journey

American Saga

My family of original and early settlers from the Old World to the New World to Oklahoma

nerd on the bridge

A Literary Paradox

:: Jarcy Tania ::

Projetos artísticos, pessoais, idéias, opiniões e reflexões sobre arte, cultura, educação, filosofia, livros e ciência.

beetleypete

The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Parental Alienation

Meeting reality

Carol King: drawing, painting, complaining

watercolors, painting, decorative arts ... © carol king

Netdancer's Musings

Live Life Passionately

World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum.

Family Law and Child Welfare Reform.

1EarthUnited

Uniting the world, One Love at a time. :D

%d bloggers like this: