What Warmed Mars? The Curious Case of the Missing Carbonate

Everything we’ve observed so far about the surface of Mars points to an ancient past that was warmer, wetter, and very possibly habitable for life as we know it. From the scars of enormous floods and vast branching river deltas that are etched into the Martian surface to the rounded pebbles of ancient stream beds…

After 15 Years NASA’s TIMED Spacecraft Keeps On Ticking

It may not be the first (or even second or third) satellite mission that comes to mind but NASA and JHUAPL’s TIMED mission continues to deliver invaluable data about Earth’s upper atmosphere over 15 years after its launch on Dec. 7, 2001. In fact its extended long-duration stay in orbit has allowed TIMED (Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics)…

The Details Are In The Dunes

And what details! This image, acquired by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Jan. 24, 2014, shows rippled dunes in Mars’ southern hemisphere, coated with a fall dusting of seasonal carbon dioxide frost. With the Sun just five degrees above the horizon, the surface detail captured by HiRISE is simply exquisite. Be…

A Solution to a Slippery Slope: CO2 Sleds on Mars?

Ever since high-resolution images of Mars’ surface have become available, scientists have wondered about the cause of long gullies seen running down along the slopes of ridges and crater walls. Here on Earth such features are often created by water flowing downhill, carving channels as it goes — but on Earth similar features usually end…

Mars’ Underground Atmosphere

Scientists have spotted an underground reservoir near Mars’ south pole the size of Lake Superior… except that this lake is filled with frozen carbon dioxide – a.k.a. “dry ice”! A recent report by scientists at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO reveals variations in Mars’ axial tilt can change how much carbon dioxide gets…

Icy Spiders

  Near Mars’ polar regions, spidery cracks and crevasses in the surface hold the last remnants of the winter season’s carbon dioxide frost – a.k.a. “dry ice” – which will eventually evaporate into the Martian atmosphere as CO2 gas. This process is seen on Earth only in specialized manmade situations such as when used as…

Permanent Freeze

  No it’s not Pan’s labyrinth, it’s a HiRISE image of a portion of Mars’ south polar ice cap showing frozen mesas made of layers of carbon dioxide ice. During the winter months on Mars – which is considerably colder than Earth – carbon dioxide is deposited as frost in the upper latitudes and evaporates…

Over The Edge

I was just checking out this HiRISE image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and thought I’d tweak it and share it here…it’s a rare and very nice in-action shot of fine ice and dust particles streaming over the edge of a sheer 2,300-foot-high cliff in the north polar region of Mars. Billowing clouds of…