A section of the polar ice cap on Mars got a remodel. 


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

If a slope falls apart on Mars and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Probably. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft captured before-and-after images showing part of Mars’ north polar cap collapsing. 

The MRO HiRise camera team at the University of Arizona put together a GIF showing the radical change in the landscape. “This animation shows where a section of the slope at right has collapsed since three Mars-years ago and deposited a field of ice blocks,” wrote planetary geologist Alfred McEwen for a HiRise image release on Friday.

A Mars-year lasts for 687 Earth days. MRO snapped the second image, the one showing the ice-block remodel, on Dec. 25, 2019. 

MRO has been in residence around the Red Planet since 2006. The orbiter’s longevity and high-resolution camera have made it one of science’s most valuable eyewitnesses to changes on Mars

The HiRise team has caught Mars in the act of redecorating before. A dramatic image from 2019 showed a cloud of dust from an avalanche. These natural processes are something Mars and Earth have in common. Gravity and the changing of the seasons can leave an impressive mark. 


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