Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

NASA Discovers Easily-Accessible Clean Water Ice All Over Mars

NASA Discovers Easily-Accessible Clean Water Ice All Over Mars

Whilst water ice is known to be present in some locations on Mars, many questions remain about its layering, thickness, purity, and extent.

"Detailed in a Science paper titled " Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes", the find was made using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. Any manned mission to Mars would likely restrict its movement to within 30 degrees of the equator.

"This ice is a critical target for science and exploration: it affects modern geomorphology, is expected to preserve a record of climate history, influences the planet's habitability, and may be a potential resource for future exploration", the study authors wrote. But because these newly discovered ice deposits are so much more accessible, they could aid the foundation of a permanent Mars base - or at least, could support future missions to study the planet. Those boulders actually allowed scientists to compare before-and-after images to calculate how fast the ice was shrinking back (a few millimeters every summer). An analysis of the scarps revealed that thick ice hides just below the surface.

Finding water ice under the surface of Mars is not new to scientists.

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Researchers believe the ice formed relatively recently, because the sites appear smooth on the surface, unpocked by craters that would be formed by celestial debris smashing into the planet over time.

Erosion has exposed eight ice sites, some as shallow as a few feet (one meter) below the surface, and going as deep as 100 meters or more, researchers said.

'Here we have what we think is nearly pure water ice buried just below the surface.

A radar instrument on the MRO previously detected signatures of thick, buried ice across the planet's belly, however, this latest study indicates a greater prevalence of Martian ice.

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That ice could have implications for science, human exploration, and even long-term living on Mars.

"Mars is not the dry, arid planet it was thought of in the past". Some of that ice was then covered up by the movement of dirt on the surface of the planet, saving it from sublimating - turning straight from a solid into gas. Water is crucial for astronauts because it can be mixed with Carbon dioxide (the most common gas in Mars' atmosphere) to create breathable oxygen and methane to be used in rockets. But this appears to be some of the most easily accessible and pure ice found yet.

Scientists hope that the ice sheets' proximity to the surface will facilitate their being studied using robots. It turned out he was looking at steep cliffs almost 330 feet (100 m) tall with exposed ice. The ice deposits likely originated as snowfall during Mars' high-obliquity periods and have now compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice. They hold clues about Mars' climate history.

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