What secrets does the Martian crater, similar to a stump, keep?

In June 2021, the ExoMars spacecraftTrace Gas Orbiter sent scientists a photo of the Martian crater, which is located on the territory of the Acidalian Plain. At first glance, it may seem that a huge tree once upon a time grew on the surface of the Red Planet and someone cut it down, leaving only a giant stump. But this is just a crater that was formed from a collision with an unknown space object. From the center of the crater stretch lines that are very reminiscent of tree growth rings. They are formed by water ice and, from time to time, change their thickness in response to changes in air temperature on Mars. Like growth rings on trees, these structures can tell a lot about the object they are on. So, what secrets does the crater on the surface of Mars keep in itself?

Martian crater imaged by ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

Interesting fact: fantasy novel by Andy WeirThe "Martian" who remains on Mars due to a sandstorm survives on the Acidalian Plain. You probably know this story thanks to the 2015 film adaptation by Ridley Scott.

How cold is it on Mars?

According to the scientific publication Science Alert,The planet Mars regularly undergoes a change of seasons. But this does not mean that it is very comfortable there in summer - even in this season, the air temperature can drop to -53 degrees. In winter, the nature of the planet presents even more severe surprises in the form of frosts at -100 degrees Celsius. In a word, the planet Mars is a very extreme place and it is harder to live there than on Earth's Antarctica.

The planet Mars has a very harsh climate.

Mysterious crater on Mars

Many craters on the Acidalian Plain are constantlycontain water ice. The object taken by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter spacecraft is no exception. There is no doubt about this just because of the presence of rings, similar to those on the cut of trees. Scientists are sure that these rings are formed by water ice because their thickness is constantly changing. When it gets colder on Mars, the water ice expands, and when it gets warmer, it contracts. All this is clearly visible on satellite images. Since expansion and contraction occurs repeatedly, in addition to rings, cracks form at the bottom of the crater.

You can download the full version of the photo on the website of the European Space Agency (ESA)

Scientists can learn a lot of interesting things even fromone photo. In the described case, the researchers were able to learn that the lines at the bottom of the crater formed a very long time ago. Researchers believe that today the location of the crater is too warm for ice to form. But this was not always the case, because in addition to the axial tilt, which causes the change of seasons, Mars also changes the angle of the axis. This happens for a very long time, from hundreds of thousands to millions of years. Based on this, it can be assumed that the ice deposits at the bottom of the crater formed a very long time ago at a time when the tilt of the axis made the climate of the Red Planet even more severe than it is now.

Spacecraft ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

See also: Water on Mars has existed for one billion years longer

Why are scientists studying Mars?

The discovery may seem insignificant - the authorsscientific work could not even name the exact time period for the formation of ice formations. But even such bits of knowledge are important, because in the future people want to colonize Mars and, perhaps, even live on it. This will be a very difficult and important period in the life of mankind, because space travelers will have to survive in a world completely unknown to them. Before the first flight, you need to find out as much useful information about it as possible.

Scientists need to study Mars as well as possible, because in the coming years they want to colonize it

Americans want to go to Mars firstSpaceX still hopes to do so in 2024. But there is one big problem, which is the unpreparedness of the Starship spacecraft. Due to the lack of progress in the development of Raptor rocket engines, in December 2021, Elon Musk even talked about the imminent bankruptcy of his company.

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So the US in the new space race is quitecan overtake China. If all other countries postpone the first flight to Mars (and the probability of this is very high), Chinese travelers will be able to go to the Red Planet as early as 2033. I talked more about the plans of Chinese researchers in this material.