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Tuesday, December 20, 2005



Is Mars Exiting An Ice Age?


[Media Source*]

(Hat Tip: Red Colony)

(Space.com) Scientists have suspected in recent years that Mars might be undergoing some sort of global warming. New data points to the possibility it is emerging from an ice age. [...]

"One explanation could be that Mars is just coming out of an ice age," Feldman said. "In some low-latitude areas, the ice has already dissipated. In others, that process is slower and hasn't reached an equilibrium yet. Those areas are like the patches of snow you sometimes see persisting in protected spots long after the last snowfall of the winter."

If Mars is indeed exiting an ice age, this will probably come as a mixed blessing for scientists and Martian enthusiasts alike. A warmer Mars increases the chance that this world can be terra-formed, as it is probably easier to accelerate a warming planet than to initiate global warming artificially. A side affect of this is that potential water resources on the red planet may evaporate before colonists have a chance to use them, which may force colonies to settle around the Martian north pole.

(Space.com) Frozen water makes up as much as 10 percent of the top 3 feet (1 meter) of surface material in some regions close to the equator. Dust deposits may be covering and insulating the lingering ice, Feldman said. [...]

"A model that fits the data has three layers near the surface," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, Tucson, team leader for the gamma-ray spectrometer instrument on Odyssey. "The very top layer would be dry, with no ice. The next layer would contain ice in the pore spaces between grains of soil. Beneath that would be a very ice-rich layer, 60 to nearly 100 percent water ice."

Hopefully the red planet will not melt too quickly, as water is Mars's greatest resource for future residents, as there appears to be no other resources of value upon the dusty worlds soil. Although our understanding of Mars has increased by leaps and bounds over the years, there is still so much humanity will have to learn about it if we intend upon investing our lives upon its surface.

Author Broadcast: Red Chasm (short story)



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By Darnell Clayton • 9:14 PM • Email Post • •

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