Multiple sites rich in water ice found on Mars

Federico Mansilla
Enero 13, 2018

Mars ice cliffs could be key to supporting life on Red Planet Mars has ice sheets more than 100 meters deep hiding beneath its red dust, offering a potential water source for future explorers of the Red Planet, according to new research.

Scientists examining the images send back by MRO have found eight different locations on Mars that reveal huge deposits of nearly pure water ice, which lie just 2 metres (6.5 feet) below the surface. What's more, bands and variations in color suggest that the ice contains distinct layers, which could be used to understand changes in Mars' climate over time (the ice sheets themselves likely formed as snow accumulated over time).

This is not the first time ice has been found on Mars.

Scientists now want to seek out similar cliffs closer to the equator, hoping that the next surprise awaiting them is the discovery of ice nearer to the tropics.

Scientists have unearthed thick and massive deposits of ice in some regions on Mars.

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Although HiRISE images appear black and white when viewed separately, each image is taken using a special filter, which focuses on one part of the spectrum of light. The researchers didn't leave this to simple colour interpretation, though. They used MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) to verify that these locations revealed the spectral signature of water.

"The discovery reported today gives us surprising windows where we can see right into these thick underground sheets of ice", Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, a co-author on the report, told NASA on Thursday.

A close-up of the false colour portion of the above image, focusing in on the scarp to reveal the details.

The findings showed that ice may be more available than previously known for use as water to support future robotic or human exploration missions, perhaps even the establishment of a permanent Mars base.

"Humans need water wherever they go, and it's very heavy to carry with you".

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