Somewhere in the Arctic sea ice, where the temperatures are typically below freezing on even the balmiest days, there is a random pattern of holes, and NASA - the literal rocket scientists who took us to the moon and want to take us to Mars - can't figure out what they are.
"The ice is likely to thin, soft, and mushy and somewhat pliable". "This can be seen in the wave-like features in front of the middle 'amoeba.'" What's more, there might be a left-to-right motion of the new ice as indicated by the finger rafting - which occurs when two floes of thin ice collide - on the right side of the area.
"It's definitely an area of thin ice, as you can see finger rafting near the holes and the color is gray enough to indicate little snow cover", scientist Nathan Kurtz said following the mission.
"I$3 t could be a sort of drainage feature that results from when the hole is made in the ice", according to National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Walt Meier.
If that's the case, it's possible the larger circles that surround the holes come from the behaviour of the seals, forming freezing puddles as the animals emerge from their frigid dip. "I have never seen anything like that before".
However if you perhaps suspected something mammalian in nature, you could be getting warmer.
Scientist, flying over the Beaufort sea, and saw unusual circles on the ice and chose to capture them.
Chris Shuman from the University of Maryland at the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center based Baltimore County glaciologist said in a statement that, "It could be warm water that is melting through the Arctic ocean sea ice". This warm water could be the result of warm springs as well as different currents that flood their way through the Arctic Ocean and eventually reach the top, carving circular shapes in the sheets of ice.
Explaining the cause of those ice holes is hard. Seals need to surface above the ice to breathe, so they would gnaw away at the ice until they created the holes in which they could get to the oxygen.