Multiple sites rich in water ice found on Mars

Multiple sites rich in water ice found on Mars

"The ice is concentrated in layered deposits at the poles, and also found in the shallow sub-surface at middle latitudes, as in our study".

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. Whilst water ice is known to be present in some locations on Mars, many questions remain about its layering, thickness, purity, and extent. I think it's sort of a game-changer.

In 2016, a NASA study said ice may yield more water per scoop than minerals, which means the H20 could be more hard to access.

The scientists also learned that the ice, which was exposed due to erosion on hillside cliffs, contains little rock and dust particles, meaning it's "relatively pure water ice" that could be used be "readily accessible to future exploration missions", the Geological Survey agency said.

The scientists located and studied the scarp sites with the high resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) camera. However, their recent discovery, which suggests the ice is only a few feet below the surface, could make the water much easier to funnel.

These underground cliffs, or scarps, appear "to be almost pure ice", said the report. The sites are in both northern and southern hemispheres of Mars, at latitudes from about 55 to 58 degrees, equivalent on Earth to Scotland or the tip of South America.

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"We've found a new window into the ice for study, which we hope will be of interest to those interested in all aspects of ice on Mars and its history, " The Washington Post reported quoting Colin Dundas, a member of the US Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center in Arizona and an author of a report published Thursday in the journal Science.

Shayne Byrne of the University of Arizona Luna and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson said the discovery was like looking at an ant farm from a glass on the side and seeing what's hidden beneath the ground.

Scientists said once the buried ice is exposed to Mars' atmosphere, a scarp likely grows wider and taller as it retreats.

A lander or rover sent to drill down into one of these locations could provide us with a detailed chronology of Mars' past climate, and according to Byrne, "Astronauts could essentially just go there with a bucket and a shovel and get all the water they need".

The ice was likely deposited as snow long ago.

NASA plans to send the first human explorers to Mars by the 2030s.

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