Ice trails on Mars: MRO captures ice-flow patterns

Ice flows on Mars.

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On August 18, 2023, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) took pictures of lines on Mars made by ice moving over time. Usually, ice is found at Mars’s polar caps, but these lines are in many non-polar Martian regions.

When ice moves downhill, it picks up rocks and dirt from the land, carrying them along the icy surface and underneath. This process takes a really long time, maybe thousands of years, and it creates patterns that show how the ice has moved.

The MRO has been looking at Mars since 2006. It uses special tools to take very close pictures of the Martian surface, study minerals, search for water beneath the surface, track how much dust and water are in the air, and keep an eye on the daily weather all over Mars. These studies help scientists find minerals that might have formed in water over a very long time, look for signs of ancient seas and lakes, and study layers of deposits made by flowing water over time.

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