Thick layer of water ice found below the surface of Mars

Pablo Tucker
January 12, 2018

"If we were to send humans to live on Mars for a substantial period of time, it would be a fantastic source of water", Balme said. As they continue scanning the surface of Mars for other regions with ice, they hope to compare the conditions of differing regions to get a better understanding of how each spot is unique.

The scientists say that the ice contains distinct layers, which could help to understand changes in the planet's climate over time.

Figuring out where the ice is hiding could tell us a lot about the planet's climate history and something about Mars' current water cycle.

But scientists now say they have discovered a mountain of frozen water lying just under the surface of the red planet; enough to help sustain a human colony. 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. Terrestrial ice deposits are often mined to see what lies within, so perhaps one day we'll have the chance to sample Martian ice too.


The images were taken and transmitted back to Earth by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. However, ice does reside below the surface.

Analyzing these features with a filter that accentuates colors, a team of researchers saw something notable for the Red Planet: a number of them had a distinctively blue color.

"The ice is a critical target for science and exploration", Dundas said. "Previous ideas for extracting human-usable water from Mars were to pull it from the very dry atmosphere or to break down water-containing rocks", said planetary scientist Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, a co-author of the study in the journal Science.

Balme noted that this find would also benefit potential future explorers, especially given the rapidly approaching Mars exploration deadlines of various countries around the world. The scientists who tend that instrument spotted patches of blue on the red planet, made a decision to look more closely and eventually found eight patches of ice.


"This kind of ice is more widesp".

The surface of Mars: could these images prove LIFE exists on the Red Planet?

The ice probably started as snowfall that compacted into massive fractured layers. 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. The destinations, with their effortlessly available ice, are drawing consideration as conceivable spots to develop future bases.


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