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.
The HiRise team has caught Mars in the act of redecorating before. Afrom 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.