Through some recent photographs, scientists have found some unusual polygon-shaped features that look like a lacy honeycomb or a spider web on a landscape of Mars. These distinctive features are not the result of Martian bees or spiders but are formed from an ongoing process of seasonal change created by water, ice and carbon dioxide.
A lot of strange features have been seen by The HiRISE camera (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) since 2006 when it went into orbit of Mars. It has captured a lot of polygon shapes in all these years.
According to the scientific team from HiRISE, water and carbon dioxide in the solid form of dry ice play a significant role in sculpting Mars’ surface at high latitudes. Water ice frozen in the soil splits the ground into polygon shapes. Then, dry ice sublimating from just under the surface when the earth warms in the spring creates even more erosion, creating channels around the boundaries of the polygons. The polygons form over many years as the near-surface ice contracts and expand seasonally.
As per scientists, this polygon-covered region shows even more springtime activity, and the layer of translucent dry ice coating on the surface develops vents that allow gas to escape.
The said team stated, “The gas carries along fine particles of material from the surface, further eroding the channels. The particles drop to the surface in dark fan-shaped deposits. Sometimes the dark particles sink into the dry ice, leaving bright marks where the fans were originally deposited. Often the vent closes, then opens again, so we see two or more fans originating from the same spot but oriented in different directions as the wind changes.”
These patterns excite the scientists because these features help them understand the current and past distribution of ices in the shallow subsurface and provide clues about climate conditions.