Scientists discover thick ice sheets beneath the surface of Mars

Newly Found Glaciers on Mars Could Support Future Colonies

NASA JPL-Caltech UA USGS

These images helped Colin Dundas, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, and team discover eight steep cliffs of what appears to be nearly pure ice. The image is from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The remarkable ice cliffs appear to contain distinct layers, which could preserve a record of Mars' past climate, according to the report. 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.

Researchers are presently discussing the profitable data they may learn by penetrating a center out of one of these stores and taking it back to Earth.

Scientists using images from an orbiting NASA spacecraft have detected eight sites where huge ice deposits near the Martian surface are exposed on steep slopes, a potential source of water that could help sustain future human outposts.

"Our interpretation is that this is consolidated snow deposited in geologically recent times", Dundas said.

The researchers think the uncovered ice isn't steady at the generally warm surface temperatures.

There are plans to get humans to Mars by the 2030s.

"In many ways, water is the key resource: Humans need liquid water biologically, water can be processed to provide oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for energy generation and even rocket fuel".

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It has been known for some time that some locations on Mars have water ice just below the surface - but until now, there has been no accurate way to know just how much. It's been a big question, with hopes raised but then dashed over the years.

"The ice is a critical target for science and exploration", Dundas said.

This could make it more hard for a human explorer to extract those resources, Zurek said.

Scientists point out that the hidden ice sheets could pave the way for supporting life on Mars.

"This kind of ice is more widesp".

Mars clearly had a watery past, and it's expected that much of the water is still on the planet.

"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 ice deposits likely originated as snowfall during Mars' high-obliquity periods and have now compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice. And the ice is buried by just a few feet of Martian dirt in places, meaning it might be accessible to future crewed missions.

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