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New HiRISE Images Show 3D Structure of Martian Ice Sheets

13 January, 2018, 01:04 | Author: Rachael Silva
  • 1_11_Mars surface

Huge ice sheets more than 300 feet deep have been discovered on Mars, making it possible that human astronauts could have access to nearly limitless water, scientists said Thursday. This means that relatively pure water ice, capped by only a thin layer of ice-cemented rock and dust, may be readily accessible to future exploration missions.

"There've been suggestions that, when there's high obliquity, the poles get heated a lot - they're tilted over and pointed more at the sun, and so that redistributes ice toward the midlatitudes", Dundas said.

The researchers of the latest study said that newly found ice sheets have distinct layers that could throw considerable light on the climate history of Mars.

In other words, the prospect of a number of glaciers of pure ice just below the surface of Mars is a big deal because they could function as both wells and fueling stations for future human activity.

For years, researchers have been striving to find accessible, "drinkable" water on Mars. Furthermore, some of these massive ice deposits were found to be more than 330 feet (100 meters) thick. Geological Survey researchers allegedly observed large, steep cross-sections of water in the form of ice under the surface of Mars. Streaks on images of the surface of Mars, thought to be water, were previous year revealed to be just drifts of sand.

"There is low rock and dust content in the exposed ice", the researchers said.

"What this study shows is that there is abundant water trapped just beneath the surface of Mars", said Professor Martin Van Kranendonk, director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology.

Mars seems to be hiding a hoard of pristine frozen water just below the surface, a new paper reports.

Further examination of the scarps that have been exposed to Mars' atmosphere by the MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer confirms that the bright material initially detected is indeed frozen water. "You don't see a high-tech solution", Byrne added.

For the study, Dundas and his team analyzed high-resolution images taken by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera fitted on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of NASA. They were found at mid-latitudes (roughly the Martian equivalent of Canada or the UK) and occupied poleward-facing slopes.

"Astronauts could essentially just go there with a bucket and a shovel and get all the water they need", said one of the report's authors, Shane Byrne of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

'It's part of the whole story of what happens to water on Mars over time: Where does it go? It turned out he was looking at steep cliffs almost 330 feet (100 m) tall with exposed ice. We expect the vertical structure of Martian ice-rich deposits to preserve a record of ice deposition and past climate.


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