Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Mars, there is more than one type of ice...

In addition to frozen water, there's also dry ice -- frozen carbon dioxide -- which shapes and reshapes the Martian landscape. Images (from left):
blocks of icy debris, warmed by the sun, tumble down cliffs of the northern ice cap; 
swirling dust devils leave tracks on defrosting dune surfaces in the south; 
as polar ice recedes, the surface erodes in scalloped ridges;
during spring in the north, sand dunes emerge from the blanket of frost;
starburst patterns are created as ice warms into gas and expands, creating channels spreading out radially;
when the gas breaks through the ice, it creates plumes and material is carried downwind.
-- NYT

At Edge, Rodney Brooks speculates on Life (or not) on Mars. Speaking for myself, I would rather it stayed quiet and beautiful there for at least a while longer.

P.S. 15 Jan: NASA says there could be bugs in the rocks.

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