Glaciers on Mars?

marsglaciers

Scientists have identified features that could be glaciers at mid-latitudes on Mars. If this interpretation is correct, then these could contain a significant amount of water ice at a considerable distance from the poles.

LiveScience: Buried Glaciers Found on Mars

There is a cirque-like feature in the foreground (the bowl-shaped feature facing the camera at the end of the ridge), as well as flow lines leading out of the cirque. I don’t see any terminal moraines, which I would expect to see if these were long-lasting, debris-rich glaciers. Alternative interpretations would include some sort of slope process or periglacial (permafrost) process, but the authors of the study seem pretty confident of their interpretation.

Perhaps features we associate with glaciers on Earth, such as moraines, eskers, kames, drumlins, and cirques won’t be associated with glaciers on Mars. On Earth, glaciers form by precipitation at higher elevations or latitudes, and dissipate by melting in warmer regions. On Mars, the primary physical processes of formation and dissipation would be deposition and sublimation.

Time for a field trip?

Image: ESA/DLR/FU

Grace and Peace

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