Spiders from Mars, this phrase describes both David Boy’s support band in the 1970’s as well as a strange feature on Mars that has nothing like it on Earth.
However, we can discuss the following here, because scientists have experimental evidence of how it is formed. In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers mimicked the Martian South Pole and discovered a process that produces araneiforms, a spider-like feature seen in many orbits of the Red Planet. The team tested the hypothesis of the so-called Kieffer’s for their formation, which coincides with incredible observations from the last decade. Now, it can reliably recreate in the lab.
Mars is much cooler than Earth and its atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide. In winter, at the poles, this air accumulates on the ground and in the spring it sinks – it goes directly from solid to gas. What the team saw was that this ecstasy was not top-down, but bottom-up. Sunlight penetrates through the clear ice and warms the soil beneath it. The ice layer will begin to get closer to the terrain until the outer layer of ice can cope with the pressure and cracks, creating a strange pattern where the sand / dust of Mars will accumulate as plums.
Lead author Dr Lauren McKeown from the Open University, said in a statement, “This study presents the first empirical evidence for a surface process that is thought to change the polar landscape of the Martian surface. Kieffer’s hypothesis has been well-received for over a decade, but so far it has been developed in a purely theoretical context.” “Experiments directly show that the types of spiders we observed on Mars from orbit can be carved by direct conversion from hard to dry ice. It’s exciting because we’re beginning to understand more about how the surface of Mars is changing today,” he said.
The team had an efficient method to test it. They used a vacuum chamber to recreate very little Martian pressure. They hung a perforated block of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) on a mechanical arm and lowered it towards the simulated soil made of grains of different sizes. Due to its proximity to the warm soil, the material is converting into plume by fresh free gas through the central hole of the block.
After the block removed, an araneiform structure left on the ground. The finer the soil, the more branched out the pattern was. “This innovative work supports the emerging theme that the current climate and climate on Mars will have a significant impact not only on dynamic surface processes but also on any future robotic and/or human exploration of the planet,” said co-author Dr. Mary Bourke explained, from Trinity College Dublin.