Research suggests the possibility of sinkholes on the Martian surface

A team of researchers led by Janice Bishop, Senior Research Scientist from the SETI Institute, suggests the existence of a thin layer of water ice just below the surface of the red planet’s barren landscape.

According to scientists, sunlight warms this ice and loosens the surface debris, making it easy for the storms on the Martian surface to blow them. The ice also interacts with chlorine salts and sulfates in the soil, creating sinkholes beneath the surface. Humankind’s dream of establishing a colony on the red planet’s surface now gets another challenge in the form of sinkhole swamps.

High-resolution images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) confirmed that Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) occurs on the sun-facing slopes on the planet.

HiRISE camera view of Krupac crater on Mars featuring gullies along the rim and RSL lower down the crater wall. Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The researchers conducted experiments on soils from the Atacama desert and Antarctica, which are similar to Mars in composition. At temperatures of about -50 degrees Celsius, the soil turned to slushy ice, and at temperatures between -40 and -20 degrees Celsius gave more free floes of ice.

Earlier findings indicate the widespread presence of water ice on the red planet. This research suggests that the planet is still active and evolving, adding to the challenges and opportunities for the scientist and astrobiologists planning future colonies on the red planet.

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