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Massive, deep deposits of ice found on Mars

12 January 2018

Scientists continue to search for ancient habitability on Mars.

What's more, in light of the fact that the precarious slant demonstrated the ice's vertical structure, the cross-segment likewise recounts an anecdote about their history.

"It was surprising to find ice exposed at the surface at these places". One likely hypothesis includes snowfall on the red planet.

Colin Dundas and a team of researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey announced their findings today, saying a number of ice deposits - some at depths as shallow as one or two meters below the planet's surface - have been exposed by surface erosion. That is much shallower than what researchers have shown before.

The researchers used images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has studied the Martian atmosphere and terrain since 2006, including the history of apparent water flows on or near the surface. However, scientists are still unsure over the extent of it, how thick it is and its purity, among other factors. This latest study may finally be the confirmation we've been looking for.

The images were taken and transmitted back to Earth by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The slopes are probably being continuously exposed as the ice sublimates into the Martian atmosphere, likely to cycle up to the poles and end up frozen there. The near-surface ice and the large deposits of ice that are exposed on the surface are connected, or part of the same geological feature.

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"It is likely that ice near the surface is even more extensive than detected in this study", Dundas said. In any case, this new research, distributed today in the diary Science, uncovers key data about the ice's layering, thickness and virtue.

Blocks falling from an ice-rich scarp, suggestive of erosion.

That ice could have implications for science, human exploration, and even long-term living on Mars. "It's great to see evidence in the form of imagery and spectroscopy to support what the radar was telling us - that there exists vast shallow subsurface ice on Mars". "But now thanks to CRISM spectral data and colour data from the HiRISE camera, we can actually see the signature of the water ice". Then we have some pretty exciting news for you.

Scientists say that pictures from Mars demonstrate huge inclines of ice - and give an indicate how they were shaped. They're at relatively easy-to-reach locations with less hostile conditions than at Mars' polar ice caps, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory - at latitudes roughly equivalent on Earth to Scotland or the tip of South America. "These would make excellent candidates for human exploitation, should we ever go there". And as Reeno pointed out to Gizmodo, the frozen water could contain perchlorates, which are toxic to humans.

Here's how it works on Mars: When the planet is farther from the sun in its orbit, and it snows, that snow remains on the surface and becomes a buildup of ice.

Massive, deep deposits of ice found on Mars