Scientists excited by discovery of ice mountain below the surface of Mars

Scientists excited by discovery of ice mountain below the surface of Mars

NASA and other organizations hoping to send people to Mars want to harvest as many resources from the planet itself as possible in order to limit the amount of stuff they would need to send from Earth off to Mars. And what's more, the ice looks pretty damn pure. New research shows that a sizable portion of this water ice is surprisingly near the surface - in some cases just a few feet down.

Optimistic timelines put our arrival on the Red Planet some time during the 2030s.

And our questions may be answered after satellite images confirmed vast glaciers of ice exist beneath the surface of Mars. That is much shallower than what researchers have shown before.

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). This means the frozen water could be easily minable. Their lower reaches were covered in rubble, making it hard to determine the total thickness of any ice deposits. This latest study may finally be the confirmation we've been looking for.

And the erosion that's taking place is changing the Martian landscape.

A statement from researchers: "This ice is a critical target for science and exploration".

Scientists and engineers have long-thought that ice could be a boon for human exploration of the red world.

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"It is likely that ice near the surface is even more extensive than detected in this study", Dundas said.

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

Blocks falling from an ice-rich scarp, suggestive of erosion. All these things indicate that Mars was a watery planet in its initial phase and now it has become a dry and icy planet.

Over time, what first began as snow is "compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice", the study says. "But now thanks to CRISM spectral data and colour data from the HiRISE camera, we can actually see the signature of the water ice".

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

That said, it may not be all that easy to access the ice found in the new study. "These would make excellent candidates for human exploitation, should we ever go there". The water could be used for drinking and potentially conversion into oxygen to breathe. Find us on Facebook too!

There have likewise been noteworthy inquiries regarding how unadulterated Mars ice is.

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