High-resolution images of the north pole on Mars over the course of two summers left researchers amazed to discover changes in the planet's surface from one season to the next.
Specifically, areas of sand previously believed to frozen, with the last activity occurring around 30,000 years ago, were instead observed to undergo significant movement over this two-year Martian period. Factors for this change include a seasonal fluctuation of frozen atmospheric carbon dioxide, which takes the form of dry ice, as well as strong gusts of wind across the planet's surface.
The CO2 component is due to the gas freezing and covering the wintry pole. As thawing occurs in spring, the dry ice changes directly back to CO2 gas. Noting her team's astonishment at the degree of change over just one Mars year, study lead and co-author Dr. Candice Hansen of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, USA stated, “This gas flow destabilizes the sand… causing sand avalanches and creating new alcoves, gullies and sand aprons on Martian dunes.”
The researchers also observed what appeared to be powerful winds in the north, resulting in the surprising formation and disappearance of sand avalanches. With some 40% of all locations in the region noted to have changed, Dr. Hansen concluded, “We've got to look at Mars as a place that has active geology in today's climate, not just sometime in the past.”
Many thanks, Dr. Hansen and colleagues for these fascinating insights into the evolution of the universe around us. May such scientific observation continue to shed light on planetary processes that help us understand how to better appreciate and preserve planet Earth.
During a 2009 videoconference with Supreme Master Television staff in the USA, Supreme Master Ching Hai revealed how human-caused climate change devastated the surface of Mars and what has been occurring on the Red Planet since, as a way to caution about the Earth's similar situation.