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Polygonal Pattern Rocks

9 December 2023
Catastrophism, Electromagnetism, Geology

At https://www.sciencenews.org/article/polygon-rock-patterns-mars-climate … on Mars, the Chinese rover, Zhurong, has  found polygon structures  buried dozens of metres below the landing site. Similar polygonal patterns occur on earth. They are thought to be carved by ice. Ground penetrating radar was used to make the discovery.

Polygonal patterns can be found on earth in polar regions, where icy sediments cool and contract. However, on Mars they are found near its equator. Problem. How is that explained. Well, was the landing site once much wetter and cooler? Or have the poles moved? Could Mars have been an ice planet?

On earth polygonal terrain forms in cold regions when sharp falls in temperature cause icy ground and soil to contract and crack open. These frost fractures are small at first but the cracks then fill with ice, sand, or both, and form wedges that gradually  prize open the cracks even more. In other words, it requires multiple cycles of frost and thaw. Polygons have actually been spotted at high latitudes on Mars but the Chinese landing site was chosen as it was dry and what looked like a dune field. Lots of sand. The polygons themselves are much bigger than earthly examples. Some 70 m across, divided by  wedges nearly 30 m wide, and many metres deep. Has some other process created the polygonal field?

As far as cold climate is concerned, one idea is that if the axis of Mars tilted far enough, eventually laying halfway on its side, the poles would receive more sunlight and the equatorial region might freeze. In other words, does Mars axis swing around on occasion? Could it have swung to and fro on numerous occasions in order for the repeated freeze and thaw process. If the poles have moved it would be simpler as freeze and thaw on earth is all about the seasons. See the full article at https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41550-023-02117-3

Meantime, at https://www.livescience.com/space/astronomy/james-webb-telescope-discovers-dark-secret-of-the-brick-a-gas-cloud-flipping-assumptions-about-how-stars-are-born …. James Webb is at it again. Peering into what is called the Brick, a dark and dense region of gas near the heart of the Milky Way, it revealed that ideas on star formation may have to be re-evaluated. It is also called the Central Molecular Zone. In spite of being full of  cool and dense gas, the building blocks of the stars, stellar birth is unexpectedly low in the region. Infra red has also show it is rich in frozen carbon monoxide. This is said to mean the heart of the Milky Way is cold – as it has ice. Not everywhere it would seem, but as far as the Central Molecular Zone is concerned. Even then that is not true as the gas is actually warmer than expected. Future observations need to look into this contradictory situation according to the lead authar of the study.

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