ScienceDaily — Debate over the origin of large-scale polygons (hundreds of meters to kilometers in diameter) on Mars remains active even after several decades of detailed observations. Similarity in geometric patterns on Mars and Earth has long captured the imagination. In this new article from GSA Today, geologists at The University of Texas at Austin examine these large-scale polygons and compare them to similar features on Earth's seafloor, which they believe may have formed via similar processes.
Understanding these processes may in turn fuel support for the idea of ancient oceans on Mars.
Through examination of THEMIS, MOLA, Viking, and Mariner data and images, planetary scientists have found that areas on the northern plains of Mars are divided into large polygon-shaped portions and that sets of these polygons span extensive areas of the Martian surface. Smaller polygon-shaped bodies are found elsewhere on Mars, but these are best explained by thermal contraction processes similar to those in terrestrial permafrost environments and not likely to form larger polygons.
In the August 2012 issue of GSA Today, Lorena Moscardelli and her colleagues from The University of Texas at Austin present a detailed comparison of the geometric features of these large Martian polygons and similar features found in deep-sea sediments here on Earth. Moscardelli and colleagues note striking similarities.