Carbon dioxide glaciers on Mars are fast-flowing phenomena.
A new study finds that dry ice flows about 100 times faster than water ice in the thin atmospheres of Mars, when on steep slopes.
The researchers verified this process by looking at carbon dioxide glaciers in the south polar region of Mars and say the model suggests this movement could have been occurring for the past 600,000 years.
Studies like this have implications for understanding ice formation throughout the solar system. Earth, Mars, and Pluto are all verified locations of fast-flowing ice, but the nonprofit Planetary Science Institute in Arizona stated that this number is likely to increase.
“There are numerous types of ice in the solar system, and with the increasing number of dwarf planets, it is likely that some of them have carbon monoxide or methane glaciers, even more exotic than the newly discovered dry ice glaciers on Mars.” said the expert. the institute said.
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Dry ice has increased in both volume and mass since it first formed more than half a billion years ago, although the process was periodically interrupted “by periods of mass loss through sublimation,” it said in a statement. lead author Isaac Smith, a PSI research scientist. the same statement. (Sublimation means the direct transformation of ice into gas).
“If the ice had never flowed,” Smith said, “then it would be mostly where it was originally deposited, and the thickest ice would only be about 150 feet across.” [147 feet] thick. Instead, because it flowed downhill into spiral basins and channels (curvilinear basins), where it pooled, it was able to form deposits as large as a kilometer [0.6 miles] thick.”
The glacial modeling came from NASA’s Sea Level and Ice Sheet System Model, which was adapted for work on Mars beginning with its current mandate to track the evolution of the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica. It showed that glacial action is the dominant force behind dry ice movements on Mars, as opposed to atmospheric deposition, which would distribute ice more evenly over thinner depth.
“Ice flows downhill into basins, just like water flows downhill into lakes. Only glacial flow can explain the distribution,” Smith said. While the flow rate probably peaked 400,000 years ago when deposition was at its peak, the slowly receding ice is still impressive in size. The longest glacier is about 25 by 124 miles (40 by 200 kilometers) long, Smith said, based on previous research including PSI Principal Scientist Than Putzig.
The new study was published Tuesday (April 25) in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. Some of the work was verified with terrestrial glaciers, which have features like compression ridges that were also detected on Mars.