A Blooming Thaw

 

Dust Geysers Form Spray Patterns in the Martian Ice
Dust Geysers Form Spray Patterns in the Martian Ice

When the Martian ice fields warm up in the spring, geysers of gas and dust burst from the frozen surface, spraying darker material into the air. This material is carried by the wind across the ground, forming patterns that mark the direction of the wind when they erupted.

Much of the ice on the surface of Mars is carbon dioxide ice – dry ice – rather than water ice. This ice thaws (or “sublimates”) directly to a gas when heated, bypassing the liquid stage. This process can cause some explosive outbursts in the polar regions on Mars as these gases escape the subsurface through cracks in the top layers of ice.

This image was taken with the HiRISE high resolution camera aboard the MRO.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

3 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Check out the cracks radiating from a central point in the geyser field. Never noticed that before in shots like this.

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    1. J. Major says:

      Looks like something I left in the fridge too long.

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      1. Gordan says:

        I know exactly what you mean, Jay.

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