Scientists find thick sheets of ice just below Mars' surface

Scientists find thick sheets of ice just below Mars' surface

Scientists find thick sheets of ice just below Mars' 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.

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. It could also help direct future landers to sample the planet's water and possibly use it to support human landings.

Although scientists knew ice existed on Mars, the new discovery shows just how much of it there is and how accessible it is for astronauts.

Another study had scientists concerned that the soil itself doesn't contain much water, but that may not be as much of an issue if it's abundant in ice form just below the surface. Beneath one such large slope, an ice sheet is present that is nearly 330 feet (100 meters) thick and this result in the blue-black hue of the lands space. Whilst water ice is known to be present in some locations on Mars, many questions remain about its layering, thickness, purity, and extent. "What we've seen here are cross-sections through the ice that give us a 3-D view with more detail than ever before".

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.

'It's like having one of those ant farms where you can see through the glass on the side to learn about what's usually hidden beneath the ground, ' said Byrne.

All of this strongly suggests that the surface-level ice and the large subsurface deposits are connected, the authors say.

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Researchers with USGS led by planetary geologist Colin Dundas have found eight separate regions on Mars where erosion has exposed what lies deep below the surface.

Interestingly, scientists think that Mars' obliquity - the tilt of the planet's axis relative to the plane of its orbit - has shifted a fair bit over the past few million years, varying between about 15 and 35 degrees, Dundas said.

"Examination of some of the scarps with MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) confirmed that the bright material is frozen water".

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been beaming back high-resolution images of the planet for over a decade now, and for most of the time, nothing too special pops up.

'Humans need water wherever they go, and it's very heavy to carry with you, ' said Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson, a co-author on today's report.

"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. The scarps are actively retreating because of sublimation of the exposed water ice. They found out three dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars.

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