Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Difference Between The Martian Poles? It's The "Cheese"

Date:
March 9, 2000
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
New high-resolution images from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft comparing the ice caps at the North and South poles show the difference between the two regions is in the 'cheese'. The North polar cap has a relatively flat, pitted surface that resembles cottage cheese, while the South polar cap has larger pits, trough and flat mesas that give it a holey, Swiss cheese appearance.

New high-resolution images from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft comparing the ice caps at the North and South poles show the difference between the two regions is in the 'cheese'. The North polar cap has a relatively flat, pitted surface that resembles cottage cheese, while the South polar cap has larger pits, trough and flat mesas that give it a holey, Swiss cheese appearance.

Related Articles


"Looking like pieces of sliced and broken Swiss cheese, the upper layer of the Martian South polar residual cap has been eroded, leaving flat-topped mesas into which are set circular depressions," said Dr. Peter Thomas of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY and lead author of the paper. "Nothing like this has ever been seen anywhere on Mars except within the South polar cap, leading to some speculation that these landforms may have something to do with the carbon dioxide thought to be frozen in the South polar region."

In a paper to be published March 9, 2000, in the journal Nature, members of the Mars Global Surveyor imaging team have described some of the newly discovered differences in polar terrain.

"The unusual shapes of the landforms on the North and South polar caps suggest that these regions have had different climates and histories for thousands or perhaps even millions of years," said Thomas. "We are discovering them for the first time because Mars Global Surveyor is working to provide high-resolution views of the tremendously diverse terrain on Mars over all Martian seasons."

"These landforms may be telling us what the South polar cap is made of," said Dr. Andrew Ingersoll of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and one of the authors of the paper. "The North residual cap -- the part that survives the summer -- is made of water ice. The South residual cap seems to be made of carbon dioxide or dry ice, but we don't know if this is a veneer a few meters thick or a solid block that extends down 2 or 3 kilometers (1.24 or 1.86 miles). These images may help us decide."

The North polar cap is covered mainly by pits, cracks, small bumps and knobs that give it the cottage cheese look. The pits that have developed on the surface are spaced close together relative to the very different depressions in the South polar cap. These pits probably developed slowly over successive spring and summer seasons.

"The polar images demonstrate again that understanding Mars' complicated history requires studying many areas in detail, just as understanding the Earth does," Thomas said.

The new images can be seen at http://photojournal.nasa.gov/new and http://www.msss.com

"If we discovered that both polar caps are mostly water, it would leave a mystery about why there is so little carbon dioxide on Mars. Earth has a lot of carbon dioxide, but creatures living in the ocean have turned it into limestone rocks. Without oceans or life, Mars should have a lot more carbon dioxide on its surface than we seem to be finding," explained Ingersoll.

Mars Global Surveyor is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL's industrial partner is Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, which developed and operates the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The Difference Between The Martian Poles? It's The "Cheese"." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000309075428.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2000, March 9). The Difference Between The Martian Poles? It's The "Cheese". ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000309075428.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The Difference Between The Martian Poles? It's The "Cheese"." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000309075428.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) China launched an experimental spacecraft Friday to fly around the moon and back to Earth in preparation for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins