The possible existence of liquid water lakes on Mars has diverted attention to the south pole of the red planet. However, it seems that its north pole is no less amazing. According to a new image generated through 3D radars, this region of our neighbor would hide a great canyon under great layers of snow.
The discovery comes from the hands of a study conducted at the Institute of Planetary Sciences, and led by Nathaniel Putzig. From here, the researchers have collected data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) orbiter on Mars, whose job it is to create a new polar map of the red planet. In recent images, a possible canyon hidden under the snowy surface is revealed.
Until now, this region was a bit fuzzy for scientists. The new data from Reconnaissance, however, have allowed us to see what appears to be a canyon and possibly a crater. produced by the impact of some celestial body. The imaging technique that has enabled these discoveries is known as GPR, and makes it easier to capture details below the planet’s surface.
The MRO, for its part, has a Shallow Radar (SHARAD). This instrument makes it possible to capture the Martian surface by means of waves that bounce off the planet. So the research team can see what’s under all that ice, without digging. Subsequently, they have converted these images into a 3D file to study them more easily.
Mars exploration is not limited to its surface
Nathaniel Putzig, lead author of the study, discusses how the creation of the 3D map of the Martian north pole was possible.
“In creating the 3D GPR, we brought together all the data from many 2D profiles across the region of interest and applied advanced three-dimensional imaging methods to unravel all interference present in the 2D profiles,” he says.
Likewise, this 3D GPR image makes it easier to observe with better focus elements that were previously impossible or very complicated of studying due to its two-dimensional nature. In this way, the understanding of the history of the north pole of Mars can be improved, as well as that of its processes and climates. In fact, while this 3D mapping is a great achievement, Putzig says “there is still a lot of detailed mapping work to be done.”
This is really the north pole of the red planet
With the captured SHARAD images, it has been revealed that the north pole of Mars has much deeper canyons than previously thought. We hope to eventually find out what is hidden in these great cracks in the Martian north, but for now it reminds us that most of the secrets of the red planet are not found on its surface.
In fact, the history of Mars has been truly tragic in the last few million years. After losing its magnetic field and much of its atmosphere, the red planet saw all the bodies of water on its surface evaporate. This has led the scientific community to wonder if, at that time, Mars could have contained primordial life. Today, Curiosity is looking for evidence to refute or prove this possibility — and it has found some.
SHARAD, for its part, was a technology developed to search for places where there could be water under the surface today, but thanks to this study, It seems that it is not the only use that scientists will be able to give it in the future.