Have you come across a photo of Mars with spider-like objects? Well, these are not the creepy crawlies you find around your home, but are caused by a phenomenon known as sublimation. That’s right, planetary scientists recreated a machine capable of simulating the Martian atmosphere and discovered that once solid ice came in contact with the warmer sediment of the surface, some of it instantly changed from a solid into gas, resulting in spider-like cracks. Read more for a video and additional information.
Simply put, the strange branch-like shapes strewn across the Mars’ surface, called araneiforms, are actually a product of carbon dioxide, or dry ice. How come there are spider-like legs? These show up in the finer grains of sediment, and since over 95% of Mars’ atmosphere is CO2, the built-up gas that rushes through the cracks leave these weird shapes.
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This research presents the first set of empirical evidence for a surface process that is thought to modify the polar landscape on Mars. The experiments show directly that the spider patterns we observe on Mars from orbit can be carved by the direct conversion of dry ice from solid to gas,” said Planetary Scientist Lauren McKeown of the Open University in England.