Oceans of ice lie a metre beneath surface of Mars

Oceans of ice lie a metre beneath surface of Mars

Billions of years back, Mars was likely substantially wetter than it is today. Dundas is also one of the authors of a report published Thursday in the journal Science. They identified eight locations where erosion had exposed apparent glaciers, some of which extend 330 feet (100 meters) or more into the Red Planet's subsurface.

While it has always been known that Mars contains ice - as much as a third of the Martian surface is thought to contain shallow ice - the ice cliff discovery could shed more light on the history of the red planet.

The scientists say that the ice contains distinct layers, which could help to understand changes in the planet's climate over time. "Water ice deposits may be that resource", Richard Zurek, the chief Mars scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in an email. The destinations, with their effortlessly available ice, are drawing consideration as conceivable spots to develop future bases.

"Below the surface of Mars, there is a substantial amount of ice deposits, however we don't have enough information on how clean, drinkable, or usable they are".

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Although water ice deposits are known to exist from previous Mars missions, this new study analyzed the vertical structure and thickness of ice sheets using high-resolution imagery and topography from the HiRISE instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. "A check of the surface temperature using Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera helped researchers determine they're not seeing just thin frost covering the ground", explains NASA on their website. Of probably wider public interest, however, is that the ice shelves "might even be a useful source of water for future human exploration of the red planet", they said.

In 2011, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter sent back images of odd dark streaks on some slopes of Mars, news that reverberated throughout the scientific community, many members of which postulated that the geological feature could be a sign of flowing water. Evidently the near-surface ice and the large subsurface deposits are one and the same, says Ali Bramson, a co-author and graduate student at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The researchers think the uncovered ice isn't steady at the generally warm surface temperatures. A probe of the scarps disclosed that the thick ice is concealed just beneath the surface.

Such locales are nasty places in winter but less nasty than Mars' super-frigid polar regions, so could perhaps be accessible from the kind of locales humans could set up presences on Mars.

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