A wonderful world full of mystery, Mars. Some of them are getting easier to understand, but others still stump us.
Consider the peculiar phenomena known as cerebral landscape. It has whorled ridges and troughs that are finely crafted; it looks like the wrinkly surface of the human brain.
It is unclear why the terrain has changed in this particular way.
In the Martian mid-latitudes, where the northern plains and the southern highlands converge, is where you can find brain terrain. It can be found in craters, valleys, and lobate aprons, which are ice-rich formations that develop at the base of large features like crater ridges and mesas.
Since brain terrain is found where there is ice, scientists believe that the behavior of frozen water may have some bearing on how it forms.
One explanation is that the ridges and furrows, which are roughly 4 to 5 meters (13 to 16 feet) high, were shaped by ice flows in some way.
The formations could also be the result of water ice that has formed beneath the surface. The earth above it could collapse due to the ice melting via cracks, creating pitted, uneven topography.
According to a third theory, the terrain might have been formed using techniques akin to “stone sorting” on Earth. When the earth freezes, the expansion causes the sediment to be lifted and heaved; when the frost thaws, the sediment that has been loosen tends to fall back, with the various stones within falling together generally according to size. On Earth, this repeatedly freezing and thawing results in patterns on the ground.
There isn’t much akin to Mars’ brain geography on Earth, but researchers have discovered what they refer to as “terrestrial brain terrain” in the Canadian High Arctic on far smaller sizes.
Although its discovery shows that stone-sorting or sublimation are likely mechanisms for the terrain’s development, we also don’t fully comprehend terrestrial brain terrain.
But since Earth is a little more approachable than Mars, it could be worthwhile to look more closely at what’s going on here to try and understand a foreign place millions of kilometers away.