Lace on Mars

Some seasonal ice on Mars is transparent so that the sunlight penetrates to the bottom of the ice. Heat from this sunlight can turn the ice directly into a gas in a process called sublimation and this gas can scour channels in the loose dirt under the ice.

Channels formed by sublimation of a layer of seasonal dry ice are so dense in this area that they look like lace . Gas flow erodes channels as it escapes to the surface of the overlying seasonal ice layer seeking the path of least resistance.

Written by: Candy Hansen (audio: Tre Gibbs)   (21 December 2016)

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Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona