(1/25) Formation of recent martian debris flows by melting of near-surface ground ice at high obliquity.
The observation of small gullies associated with recent surface runoff on Mars has renewed the question of liquid water stability at the surface of Mars. The gullies could be formed by groundwater seepage from underground aquifers; however, observations of gullies originating from isolated peaks and dune crests question this scenario. We show that these landforms may result from the melting of water ice in the top few meters of the martian subsurface at high obliquity. Our conclusions are based on the analogy between the martian gullies and terrestrial debris flows observed in Greenland and numerical simulations that show that above-freezing temperatures can occur at high obliquities in the near surface of Mars, and that such temperatures are only predicted at latitudes and for slope orientations corresponding to where the gullies have been observed on Mars. (+info)
(2/25) Seasonal variations of snow depth on Mars.
Using topography collected over one martian year from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft, we have measured temporal changes in the elevation of the martian surface that correlate with the seasonal cycle of carbon dioxide exchange between the surface and atmosphere. The greatest elevation change (1.5 to 2 meters) occurs at high latitudes ( above 80 degrees ), whereas the bulk of the mass exchange occurs at lower latitudes (below 75 degrees N and below 73 degrees S). An unexpected period of sublimation was observed during northern hemisphere autumn, coincident with dust storms in the southern hemisphere. Analysis of MGS Doppler tracking residuals revealed temporal variations in the flattening of Mars that correlate with elevation changes. The combined changes in gravity and elevation constrain the average density of seasonally deposited carbon dioxide to be 910 +/- 230 kilograms per cubic meter, which is considerably denser than terrestrial snow. (+info)
(3/25) Observational evidence for an active surface reservoir of solid carbon dioxide on Mars.
High-resolution images of the south polar residual cap of Mars acquired in 1999 and 2001 show changes in the configuration of pits, intervening ridges, and isolated mounds. Escarpments have retreated 1 to 3 meters in 1 martian year, changes that are an order of magnitude larger than can be explained by the sublimation of water ice, but close to what is expected for sublimation of carbon dioxide ice. These observations support a 35-year-old conjecture that Mars has a large surface reservoir of solid carbon dioxide. The erosion implies that this reservoir is not in equilibrium with the present environment and that global climate change is occurring on Mars. (+info)
(4/25) Global distribution of neutrons from Mars: results from Mars odyssey.
Global distributions of thermal, epithermal, and fast neutron fluxes have been mapped during late southern summer/northern winter using the Mars Odyssey Neutron Spectrometer. These fluxes are selectively sensitive to the vertical and lateral spatial distributions of H and CO2 in the uppermost meter of the martian surface. Poleward of +/-60 degrees latitude is terrain rich in hydrogen, probably H2O ice buried beneath tens of centimeter-thick hydrogen-poor soil. The central portion of the north polar cap is covered by a thick CO2 layer, as is the residual south polar cap. Portions of the low to middle latitudes indicate subsurface deposits of chemically and/or physically bound H2O and/or OH. (+info)
(5/25) Distribution of hydrogen in the near surface of Mars: evidence for subsurface ice deposits.
Using the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer on the Mars Odyssey, we have identified two regions near the poles that are enriched in hydrogen. The data indicate the presence of a subsurface layer enriched in hydrogen overlain by a hydrogen-poor layer. The thickness of the upper layer decreases with decreasing distance to the pole, ranging from a column density of about 150 grams per square centimeter at -42 degrees latitude to about 40 grams per square centimeter at -77 degrees. The hydrogen-rich regions correlate with regions of predicted ice stability. We suggest that the host of the hydrogen in the subsurface layer is ice, which constitutes 35 +/- 15% of the layer by weight. (+info)
(6/25) Exposed water ice discovered near the south pole of Mars.
The Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) has discovered water ice exposed near the edge of Mars' southern perennial polar cap. The surface H2O ice was first observed by THEMIS as a region that was cooler than expected for dry soil at that latitude during the summer season. Diurnal and seasonal temperature trends derived from Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer observations indicate that there is H2O ice at the surface. Viking observations, and the few other relevant THEMIS observations, indicate that surface H2O ice may be widespread around and under the perennial CO2 cap. (+info)
(7/25) A sublimation model for martian south polar ice features.
In their pioneering work, Leighton and Murray argued that the Mars atmosphere, which at present is 95% carbon dioxide, is controlled by vapor equilibrium with a much larger polar reservoir of solid carbon dioxide. Here we argue that the polar reservoir is small and cannot function as a long-term buffer to the more massive atmosphere. Our work is based on modeling of the circular depressions commonly found on the south polar cap. We argue that a carbon dioxide ice layer about 8 meters thick is being etched away to reveal water ice underneath. This is consistent with thermal infrared data from the Mars Odyssey mission. (+info)
(8/25) Fluid core size of Mars from detection of the solar tide.
The solar tidal deformation of Mars, measured by its k2 potential Love number, has been obtained from an analysis of Mars Global Surveyor radio tracking. The observed k2 of 0.153 +/- 0.017 is large enough to rule out a solid iron core and so indicates that at least the outer part of the core is liquid. The inferred core radius is between 1520 and 1840 kilometers and is independent of many interior properties, although partial melt of the mantle is one factor that could reduce core size. Ice-cap mass changes can be deduced from the seasonal variations in air pressure and the odd gravity harmonic J3, given knowledge of cap mass distribution with latitude. The south cap seasonal mass change is about 30 to 40% larger than that of the north cap. (+info)