HiRISE observations of gas sublimation-driven activity in Mars' southern polar regions: I. Erosion of the surface

C. J. Hansen, N. Thomas, G. Portyankina, Alfred S. McEwen, T. Becker, Shane Byrne, K. Herkenhoff, H. Kieffer, M. Mellon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has imaged the sublimation of Mars' seasonal CO2 polar cap with unprecedented detail for one complete martian southern spring. In some areas of the surface, beneath the conformal coating of seasonal ice, radially-organized channels are connected in spidery patterns. The process of formation of this terrain, erosion by gas from subliming seasonal ice, has no earthly analog. The new capabilities (high resolution, color, and stereo images) of HiRISE enable detailed study of this enigmatic terrain. Two sites are analyzed in detail, one within an area expected to have translucent seasonal CO2 ice, and the other site outside that region. Stereo anaglyphs show that some channels grow larger as they go uphill - implicating gas rather than liquid as the erosive agent. Dark fans of material from the substrate are observed draped over the seasonal ice, and this material collects in thin to thick layers in the channels, possibly choking off gas flow in subsequent years, resulting in inactive crisscrossing shallow channels. In some areas there are very dense networks of channels with similar width and depth, and fewer fans emerging later in the season are observed. Subtle variations in topography affect the channel morphology. A new terminology is proposed for the wide variety of erosional features observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-295
Number of pages13
JournalIcarus
Volume205
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

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sublimation
polar region
polar regions
mars
erosion
Mars
high resolution
ice
gases
gas
experiment
fans
stereo image
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
channel morphology
terminology
gas flow
polar caps
coating
science

Keywords

  • Mars, Polar caps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

HiRISE observations of gas sublimation-driven activity in Mars' southern polar regions : I. Erosion of the surface. / Hansen, C. J.; Thomas, N.; Portyankina, G.; McEwen, Alfred S.; Becker, T.; Byrne, Shane; Herkenhoff, K.; Kieffer, H.; Mellon, M.

In: Icarus, Vol. 205, No. 1, 01.2010, p. 283-295.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hansen, CJ, Thomas, N, Portyankina, G, McEwen, AS, Becker, T, Byrne, S, Herkenhoff, K, Kieffer, H & Mellon, M 2010, 'HiRISE observations of gas sublimation-driven activity in Mars' southern polar regions: I. Erosion of the surface', Icarus, vol. 205, no. 1, pp. 283-295. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2009.07.021
Hansen, C. J. ; Thomas, N. ; Portyankina, G. ; McEwen, Alfred S. ; Becker, T. ; Byrne, Shane ; Herkenhoff, K. ; Kieffer, H. ; Mellon, M. / HiRISE observations of gas sublimation-driven activity in Mars' southern polar regions : I. Erosion of the surface. In: Icarus. 2010 ; Vol. 205, No. 1. pp. 283-295.
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