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tiptrot.com June 18, 2018


Scientists Have Discovered Massive Ice Sheets on Mars

13 January 2018, 01:01 | Susie Olson

NASA Mars orbiter finds thick layers of exposed water ice on Martian slopes

1_11_Mars surface

No one is holding their breath that they will find a lake of Evian bubbling up, but now scientists found what may be the next best thing - a clear view of several layers of water ice deposited right under the surface. This means that relatively pure water ice, capped by only a thin layer of ice-cemented rock and dust, may be readily accessible to future exploration missions.

In 2016, a NASA study said ice may yield more water per scoop than minerals, which means the H20 could be more hard to access.

The researchers of the latest study said that newly found ice sheets have distinct layers that could throw considerable light on the climate history of Mars.

"There has been discussion by the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group. and others in the community of using ice as a resource", lead author and planetary scientist Colin Dundas, said via email.

'There is shallow ground ice under roughly a third of the Martian surface, which records the recent history of Mars'.

The results revealed massive subsurface ice sheets on the planet extending from just below the surface to a depth of at least 100 meters (328ft). Beneath its ruddy layer of dirt is a sheet of ice 300 feet thick that gives the landscape a blue-black hue.


While scientists have long known about the red planet's sub-surface ice sheets, this is the first time ice has been seen exposed and easily accessible. Although previous studies made scientists ware of the ice deposits on the ice, the latest study can provide vital information about the thickness, layering, and purity of ice on the red planet.

Analyzing these features with a filter that accentuates colors, a team of researchers saw something notable for the Red Planet: a number of them had a distinctively blue color. "You don't see a high-tech solution", Byrne added. The sites of exposed ice are located on steep slopes, or "scarps", in Mars' midlatitudes.

Examination of some of the scarps with MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) confirmed that the bright material is frozen water. Byrne joked that now it's enough for astronauts to go to Mars with just "a bucket and a shovel" and they'll have all the water they need.

The researchers investigated eight locations on Mars and found thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle.

Such structures promise to yield a layered record of past martian climates, similarly to how polar ice caps do on Earth.

"If we were to send humans to live on Mars for a substantial period of time, it would be a fantastic source of water", Balme said. It turned out he was looking at steep cliffs almost 330 feet (100 m) tall with exposed ice. Terrestrial ice deposits are often mined to see what lies within, so perhaps one day we'll have the chance to sample Martian ice too.



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