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This riven Martian arctic was a mystery to scientists for over forty years. But data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has given researchers some important clues to how the ice spirals formed. Their findings appear in two papers published in the journal Nature.
On Earth, large ice sheets are shaped mainly by ice flow. According to this latest research, other forces have shaped, and continue to shape, polar ice caps on Mars. The northern ice cap is a stack of ice and dust layers up to two miles deep, covering an area slightly larger than Texas. Analyzing radar data on a computer, scientists can peel back the layers like an onion to reveal how the ice cap evolved over time.