NEW YORK, NY – A strange occurrence on Mars has been explained!
For those holding out hope that there is some mystery force on Mars working wonders will be disappointed again. Researchers have discovered that huge troughs curving outwards from the north pole of Mars are the result of a long process of formation and erosion that gave it the appearance of slowly moving and spiraling inward over time.
A similar slow-moving process gave way to the Chasma Boreale canyon that cuts into the side of the giant pinwheel pattern, known as the north polar layered deposits. The unveiling of the origins of the canyon and NPLD come courtesy of ground-penetrating radar carried by two Mars orbiters.
Scientists had originally favored the idea that a natural force recently carved both the canyon and pinwheel pattern into older geological deposits. But they could not test their theories beyond what they could see on the Martian surface, as if trying to judge a book by its cover.
“Radar is like opening a book; we can read each page now,” said Isaac Smith, a planetary scientist at the University of Texas Austin. “Peopl were looking at the outside and thinking they knew what the book was about, but they didn’t.”
The radar studies do not answer the riddle of what changes in the Martian atmosphere spurred the formation of both the canyon and the younger spiraling troughs. But they do give scientists a new understanding of the timing of the processes that allow the wind and sun to shape the Martian surface over a certain period, and that may lead to move evidence-based climate models for the red planet.