Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/102

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where it and its girdle, long since grown too small for detection, had been became one yellow stretch.

That the blue was water at the edge of the melting snow seems unquestionable. That it was the color of water; that it so persistently bordered the melting snow; and that it subsequently vanished, are three facts mutually confirmatory to this deduction. But a fourth bit of proof, due to the ingenuity of Professor W. H. Pickering, adds its weight to the other three. For he made the polariscope tell the same tale. On scrutinizing the great bay through an Arago polariscope, he found the light coming from the bay to be polarized. Now, to polarize the light it reflects is a property, as we know, of a smooth surface such as that of water is.

Before going further we will take up here at the outset the question of the constitution of these polar caps, which in their general behavior so strikingly suggest our own ice-caps as they would appear could they be seen from a distance of forty millions of miles. That they so instantly suggest snow has suggested, to that class of mind which likes to make of molehills of question mountains of doubt, the possibility that instead of ice we have here snow-caps of solid carbonic acid gas (carbon dioxide). The occasion of the suggestion is the fact that carbonic dioxide under certain conditions becomes