Today's Image of Mars shows what happened in Deuteronilus Mensae when ice quickly disappeared from the surface. The image below is of glaciers that once contained an abundance of ice, but when the climate changed, much of the ice on and near the surface disappeared into the atmosphere.
When the ice sublimated into the atmosphere it caused overlying terrain to collapse in on itself, creating the sharp, irregular features you see below. If we can determine when the features changed then that could tell us exactly when the climate on Mars went through a transition. If we know when the transition occurred we can make better guesses as to the reason behind the climate change. Perhaps an enormous asteroid collided with the planet, or maybe the rotational axis changed; there are unlimited possibilities, but knowing the time frame can help us narrow them down.
|Clicking on this image will take you to the original high resolution HiRISE image.|
[See their caption for the image]