Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ice Caves on Mars?

Could be a great place to check for something crawling around; or evidence that something once crawled around.

Picture embedded below.

"New results published in the journal Icarus suggest that caves on Mars may provide future astronauts with more than just shelter. In many locations, even far from the poles, the caves may actually trap water ice.

Ice caves are made of rock, but they contain ice year-round. (Not to be confused with glacier caves, which are caves made of ice!) Ice caves can be found on the Earth even where surface temperatures are above freezing for months at a time. This happens because cold winter air sinks into the cave and is trapped, but during the summer, the circulation in the cave shuts off: it is full of dense cold air so the warm air outside can’t get in.

Now, in a study led by Kaj Williams of NASA Ames, scientists have used simulations of the global climate and assumptions about the thermal properties of the surface to figure out where on Mars similar cold-trapping might occur. Their results show that a significant portion of the martian surface has the right conditions for ice to accumulate in caves.

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