Scientists Use Wyoming Glaciers As A Tool To Study The Martian Climate
Rock-covered glaciers in Wyoming are helping scientists understand the glaciers on Mars.
University of Arizona researcher Tyler Meng and his team want to know how water has moved across the red planet over time.
"At the polar latitudes, ice is actually stable at the surface, so that's why we get a more traditional ice cap at the north and south pole," he said. "But the big question is where the rest of the water is on Mars and where it went or where it's being trapped today."
Scientists first discovered glaciers on Mars, mostly in the mid-latitude regions, using radar images. They are buried beneath debris, which prevents the ice from melting like it normally would on the surface.
That's also the case for some glaciers in the Absaroka Mountains of Wyoming. As the Earth cycled through different ice ages, different layers of rock and ice formed on Wyoming's glaciers. Meng and his team use radar to identify those layers.
"We're trying to understand which of those are internal debris layers and what that says about the past ice ages," he said.
By modeling Wyoming's glaciers, Meng said scientists can link their structure to the past climate on Earth. In the future, they plan to use the same process to study the history of the Martian climate.
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