Melting Possibility Of Remnant Seasonal Water Ice Patches On Mars

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
December 6, 2022
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Melting Possibility Of Remnant Seasonal Water Ice Patches On Mars
Ice patch examples on the southern hemisphere of Mars – astro-ph.EP

On Mars it is possible that after the recession of the seasonal polar ice cap, small icy patches left behind in shady places due to the low thermal conductivity of the Martian surface and atmosphere, are met by direct sunlight during the summer.

These patches might warm up substantially and we analyzed below how could a liquid phase emerge in these places, surveying HiRISE images.

110 images were analyzed out of the available 1400 that fit the selection criteria of location and season, and we identified 37 images with smaller ice patches on them. Their separation from other bright patches, like clouds or lighter shades of layers and rocks were possible by their bluish color and strong connection to local topographic shading. These areas range between 140° and 200° solar longitude in the latitude band between -40° and -60°. The diameter of the ice patches ranges between 1.5-300 meters, and they remain on the surface even after the seasonal polar cap has passed over the area for the duration range of 19-133 martian days.

With the help of The Mars Climate Database (MCD) we simulated the surface temperature and predicted CO2 and H2O ice cover at 22 analyzed areas. Judging by the models, the average noon temperature does not reach the melting point of water, which is 273 K, therefore the occurrence of liquid water on the macroscopic scale is highly unlikely, however there is a possibility that an interfacial premelting of ice (a few nanometers thick waterlayer) might form between the layered and the water ice.

Mira A. Gergácz, Ákos Kereszturi

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2212.02166 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2212.02166v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Mira Gergacz
[v1] Mon, 5 Dec 2022 11:05:51 UTC (10,844 KB)

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