Mars image shows surprising discovery – researchers speak of “tree stump”

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta February 2, 2022
Updated 2022/02/02 at 1:42 PM

The first Mars mission started as early as 1962, even if it did not lead to the hoped-for image of the red planet. Since then, however, it has been intensively researched both from orbit and directly from the surface and has repeatedly led to new findings. A Mars imagecaptured by the CaSSIS camera on board the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), shows just how unusual the detected objects can be.

ESA image of Mars: This object is astonishing in several ways

Said photo was taken on June 13, 2021 over the northern plains of Acidalia Planitia. It shows the view from orbit into the interior of a crater. Its special feature are ring-shaped structures that make it look like a huge tree stump.

“This feature can easily be mistaken for a tree stump with its distinctive concentric rings. It is indeed an impressive bird’s-eye view of an ice-rich impact crater on Mars.”

European Space Agency (ESA)

In addition to the visual attractions, the Mars crater is particularly fascinating from a scientific point of view. According to the ESA, it provides information about how the climate on the planet behaved in the past.

“Tree rings provide snapshots of past climates on Earth and, although they form differently, the patterns in this crater also reveal details of the red planet’s history.”

European Space Agency (ESA)

Crater interior reflects seasons

In their blog entry, the researchers explain in more detail what the Mars image alone does not reveal. In detail, it probably shows deposits rich in water or ice. These are believed to have accumulated there at earlier times in Martian history.

At that time, the inclination of the axis of rotation allowed corresponding deposits to be made at lower latitudes than is the case today. As on Earth, seasons begin to form at a certain angle, except that on Mars the tilt has changed dramatically over long periods.

The quasi-round, polygonal patterns of fractures that characterize these deposits are likely due to changes in seasons and temperatures. They therefore show cycles of expansion and contraction of the ice-rich material.

ESA’s Mars Mission: This is TGO

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a spacecraft jointly launched by ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, reached Mars in 2016.

It then began its full mission in 2018, during which TGO will provide both images of Mars and an inventory of the planet’s atmospheric gases. Due to the chosen focus on geologically and biologically important gases, the surface can be mapped according to water-rich locations.

Sources: European Space Agency

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