'Spiders' on Mars

November 19, 2012 by Jason Major, Universe Today
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Eek, spiders! All right, so it's not actually little green arachnids we're talking about here, but they are definitely spidery features. Called araneiform terrain, these clusters of radially-branching cracks in Mars' south polar surface are the result of the progressing spring season, when warmer temperatures thaw subsurface CO2 ice.

As below the surface warms it can sublimate rapidly and burst through the frozen ground above, creating long cracks. If the material below is dark it can be carried upwards by the escaping gas, staining the surface.

Each dark splotch is around 100 meters wide.

This image was acquired by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on September 26, from a distance of 262 km (163.8 miles). See the full-size scan here, and check out more recent HiRISE images in the November PDS release here.

Explore further: Dark Pit on Mars' Arsia Mons, with Sunlit Wall

Related Stories

Dark Pit on Mars' Arsia Mons, with Sunlit Wall

August 31, 2007

The High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has confirmed that a dark pit seen on Mars in an earlier HiRISE image really is a vertical shaft that cuts through lava flow on ...

Pits, flows, other scenes in new set of Mars images

December 2, 2010

Newly released images from 340 recent observations of Mars by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show details of a wide assortment of Martian environments.

Clouds get in the way on Mars

March 23, 2012

The science team from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter wanted to take another look at a region of icy sand dunes on Mars to look for seasonal changes as spring is now arriving on the Red Planet’s ...

Recommended for you

Rosetta captures comet outburst

August 25, 2016

In unprecedented observations made earlier this year, Rosetta unexpectedly captured a dramatic comet outburst that may have been triggered by a landslide.

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

August 24, 2016

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Paul Butler has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 19, 2012
Once again, the answers may have an electrical origin.

http://www.thunde...ders.htm

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.