Taral’s Martian Ice

By Taral Wayne: Here’s something odd for you. While downloading photos from NASA’s Curiosity site (some 200 from Sol 137), my eye was caught by a strange white patch deep in the shadow of one overhang. I’ve seen some other whitish rock or glaze in other photos, but this looked completely different. It looked, in fact, like snow or ice. There’s even a dark area beneath it as though it was slowly melting. I suppose it could be ice — why not? So far we’ve discovered ice in a number of places. This particular overhang might just be cool enough to sustain a patch, at least temporarily.

I immediatey emailed the website and identified the photo. One other also shows the patch, though it’s much harder to see it — so it doesn’t appear to be a glitch in the first photo. No word from NASA, naturally…

Do you think it possible nobody had spotted it? If they have, they’ve been rather close mouthed … or could they deem it something of no interest, I wonder?

I’ve dubbed it “Saara’s Icebox,” somewhat whimsically. I’d love it to stick, but I don’t imagine there’s much chance of it.

Although, oddly some names I suggested to NASA by e-mail for highlands on Titan have appeared on one NASA map. Nobody mentioned adopting my suggestion … so it might be a coincidence.

Brittanum, Gaul and Hispania

Great Britain

Great Britain and Gaul

Postscript: Another photo of the overhanging rock formation has turned up in Sol 170′s photo cache. The white stuff, whatever it was, doesn’t seem visible. The view is distant, though, so it’s hard to see if there might be just a little left. Perhaps significantly, the dark stain that had been below the white stuff is also gone or going. Seems that it’s too late to investigate anything now. Good one, NASA!

Going, going… gone! (Sol 170)

One thought on “Taral’s Martian Ice

  1. I finally received an answer from Mars Outreach, one of NASA’s PR organs. It looks like sheer boiler plate, but for what it’s worth, they said,

    “Thank you for your email. We are unable to comment on specific images, but are glad to know you take an interest in the mission! Please note that the data products from all the instruments on Curiosity are shared on NASA’s Planetary Data System (http://pds.nasa.gov ), as is the case for other Mars missions as well. The delay can be several months, however, so Mars Science Lab data products are not there yet. NASA news and mission websites post some particularly interesting results provided by the science team at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl. Research papers and conference presentations about MSL results will also take place via venues such as the American Geophysical Union annual meeting (http://sites.agu.org/meetings/) and the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2013/), both of which post scientific abstracts online and often host public webcasts with important announcements and results. Results will also be published in scholarly journals such as the Journal of Geophysical Research as well as in popular publications in print and online. Additionally, you may enjoy following the mission interactively at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/explore/curiosity or watching current and archived press briefings at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl/videos

    We’re in a great age of Martian discovery, and we hope everyone around the globe feels a part of it! Please keep following all of our missions at http://mars.nasa.gov or Curiosity’s journey at http://mars.nasa.gov/msl.

    Thanks again for your message and your interest in Mars exploration!

    All the best, Mars Outreach”

    I do try to keep up with NASA’s webpages, though there are more than anyone could visit continually. I watch three for Mars, one for Cassini and one for Messenger on a daily basis. Otherwise, the reply I got seems only to say that any information derived from the Curiosity rover will take months to grind it way trough numerous boards and panels and seminars in professional circles before the public will get a peek at it — by which time the public will have long forgot. The inference also seems to be that if in the next six months anyone notices “Saara’s Icebox” it will be “discovered” then, and the “discovery” theirs. Ah, well … I’ve had my five minutes of fame back in 2009 … The rules say nothing about being entitled to another five.

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