The Life of a Glacier on Mars
The Life of a Glacier on Mars
PSP_008809_2215  Science Theme: Glacial/Periglacial Processes
The life of glacier-like forms (GLFs) on Mars can be quite a drag, especially when having to push through all the Martian dust and rocks for millions of years. In this image, we see a potential debris-covered glacier spilling out onto relatively flat plains in Protonilus Mensae, spreading into a bulb-like lobe while bulldozing the surface in front of it.

After years of surface modification, different types of landforms develop. The most common glacial landforms on Mars are viscous flow features and curved, raised ridges at the terminus of a GLF called “moraines.”

This close-up image of the GLF surface also shows linear features resembling fractures, as seen on many terrestrial glaciers. Also visible on the sides of the valley walls are a series of parallel lines that could potentially be exposed layers or lines that mark the GLF’s past levels.

Ice is one of the many powerful agents that can modify the surface of a planet. On Mars, water-ice tends to be more common in the mid- to high latitude regions and can serve as paleoclimate indicators or windows into the past climate of Mars.

Written by: Chimira Andres, Livio Leonardo Tornabene, Leah Sacks, and Vidhya Ganesh Rangarajan  (3 February 2020)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_009455_2215.
Acquisition date
12 June 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
297.3 km (184.8 miles)

Original image scale range
59.5 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~179 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

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Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
43°, with the Sun about 47° above the horizon

Solar longitude
84.6°, Northern Spring

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  358.7°
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All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.