The US space agency NASA likened the Mars image to a slice of delicious tiramisu cake. The picture features a streak of frozen water cutting across the familiar red surface of Mars.
Although the Red Planet at first glance appears to be dry and barren, much like our Moon, the planet’s poles are rich in frozen water and gases.
NASA said: “The Martian ice cap is like a cake with every layer telling a story.
“In this case, the story is one of change on Mars.
“This image of an exposed section of the north polar layered deposits (NPLD) looks much like a delicious slice of layered tiramisu.”
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The NPLD is made up primarily of frozen water and dust particles layered on top of one another.
The “frosting” on top of the layers is a sprinkling of seasonal carbon dioxide frost.
You can see the carbon dioxide in the image as “lingering frost adhering to one of the layers”.
The photo was snapped by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter or MRO.
The spacecraft, which launched towards the Red Planet in 2005, provides scientists with some of the most detailed snapshots of Mars’ surface.
Pictures like the one above can help planetary scientists better understand how the Red Planet’s climate evolved.
The Martian ice cap is like a cake with every layer telling a story
NASA said: “The high-resolution and colour capabilities of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera provides details on the variations in the layers
“Scientists are also using radar data, which show us that they have continuity in the subsurface.
“During deposition, these complex layers might encapsulate tiny air pockets from the atmosphere which, if sampled, could be studied to understand linkages to previous climates.
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“In the end, it’s not always a piece of cake studying NPLD on Mars but, where there cakes there is hope.”
Water is one of the main building blocks of life, as far as life on Earth goes, and its discovery on Mars opens up the possibility the Red Planet once hosted life.
In its current condition, Mars is too inhospitable for life to exist on the surface.
But the planet is believed to have once been hotter, wetter and much more like a young Earth many millions of years ago.
NASA said: “We know that most of the current Martian atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide.
“If carbonate minerals were formed on the Martian surface by chemical reactions between water and the atmosphere, the presence of these minerals would be a clue that water had been present for a long time–perhaps long enough for life to have developed.”
Based on these assumptions, the NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will drill into the Red Planet to find clues about Mars’ ability to host life.
Scheduled to launch later this year, the rover has been recently named Perseverance.
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