Newly Discovered Martian Ice Could Be Good News For Future Astronauts

Sheri Evans
January 13, 2018

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. Under its reddish layer of dirt lie 300 ft. thick sheets of ice. This could make future manned missions to explore Mars much more feasible.

These ice sheets have scientific value beyond just hydrating the first Martian settlers.

Using the MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, the team was able to get a cross sectional look at the ice to learn more about its composition and depth.

It isn't news that there's ice on Mars.

According to the study, the sheets are located beneath the surface and they contain distinct layers.

Huge ice sheets more than 300 feet deep have been discovered on Mars, making it possible that human astronauts could have access to nearly limitless water, scientists said Thursday.

These underground cliffs appear 'to be almost pure ice, ' say the researchers, who analysed data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2005. A probe of the scarps disclosed that the thick ice is concealed just beneath the surface.

The big takeaway from the find is that we now know at least eight sites where underground ice is accessible, providing a potential reservoir of water, necessary for human expeditions to the planet.

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The underground ice's existence was known to NASA thanks to its previous work with its Mars Odyssey orbiter, MRO's ground-penetrating radar, plus the ESA's Mars Express orbiter.

"This subsurface ice could contain valuable records of the Martian climate, just like the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores", said Susan Conway, a planetary scientist at the University of Nantes in France.

"We've found a new window into the ice for study, which we hope will be of interest to those interested in all aspects of ice on Mars and its history", said Colin Dundas, a member of the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Centre in Arizona and an author of a report published Thursday in the journal Science.

Mars seems to be hiding a hoard of pristine frozen water just below the surface, a new paper reports.

"One of those is oxygen, which we need to breathe, and another is methane, which is what we would use to form rocket fuel on the surface of Mars". The ice sheets are found 55 to 60 degrees north or south of the equator where temperatures can drop extremely low, making it hard for future astronauts to gain access to them.

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

The abundant supply of ice could help sustain a human colony, and may even be an indicator of alien life.

The researchers think the ice deposits started out as snow or frost that fell, was compacted and then recrystallized. The scarps are actively retreating because of sublimation of the exposed water ice.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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