The Martian ice cap is like a cake with every layer telling a story. In this case, the story is one of climate change on Mars.

This image of an exposed section of the north polar layered deposits (NPLD) looks much like a delicious slice of layered tiramisu. The NPLD is made up of water-ice and dust particles stacked one on top of the other. However, instead of icing, layers are topped with seasonal carbon dioxide frost, as seen here as lingering frost adhering to one of the layers.

The high-resolution and color capabilities of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera provides details on the variations in the layers. Scientists are also using radar data, which show us that they have continuity in the subsurface. During deposition, these complex layers might encapsulate tiny air pockets from the atmosphere which, if sampled, could be studied to understand linkages to previous climates.

In the end, it’s not always a piece of cake studying NPLD on Mars but, where there is cake, there is hope!

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

火星冰帽就像一块蛋糕,每一层都有一个故事。在这种情况下,故事是关于火星上的气候变化。

这张北极分层沉积物(NPLD)裸露部分的图像看起来很像一块美味的分层提拉米苏。 NPLD由水冰和灰尘颗粒相互堆叠而成。然而,不同于糖霜,各层的顶部都覆盖着季节性的二氧化碳霜,就像这里看到的那样,持续的霜冻粘附在其中一层上。

火星勘测轨道飞行器的HiRISE摄像机具有高分辨率和彩色功能,可提供有关各层变化的详细信息。科学家还使用雷达数据,这些数据向我们显示了它们在地下具有连续性。在沉积过程中,这些复杂的层可能封装了大气中的微小气穴,如果进行采样,则可以进行研究以了解与先前气候的联系。

最后,在火星上研究NPLD并不总是一件容易的事,但是,哪里有蛋糕,哪里就有希望!

图片来源:NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

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