Erosion reveals steep slopes hiding massive ice deposits on Mars

Erosion reveals steep slopes hiding massive ice deposits on Mars

"In the mid-latitudes, it's normally covered by a blanket of dust or regolith", loose bits of rock atop a layer of bedrock, said research geologist Colin Dundas of the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, who led the study. The image is from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The sheets are at least 100 meters thick and appear to preserve layers that may help us reconstruct how the water ended up frozen there. 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.

Scientists now want to seek out similar cliffs closer to the equator, hoping that the next surprise awaiting them is the discovery of ice nearer to the tropics. Also in 2016, scientists assessed evidence of one ice deposit around the middle latitudes of the Red Planet using a radar aboard a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars, which holds as much water as Lake Superior.

Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, has also discussed plans for private manned missions to Mars.

"In many ways, water is the key resource: Humans need liquid water biologically, water can be processed to provide oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for energy generation and even rocket fuel". Millions of years ago, Mars span on a different axis and in a different orbit, so some scientists say these signatures may be remnants of glaciers from then.

"The ice is a critical target for science and exploration", Dundas said.

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Scientists point out that the hidden ice sheets could pave the way for supporting life on Mars.

The "game-changing" discovery could be vital to human explorers in the future, reported the United States journal Science yesterday.

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.

Dundas and his colleagues used NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter - a satellite that has circled Mars since 2006 providing scientists with a steady stream of photographs of the planet's surface.

Over time, what first began as snow is "compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice", the study says. The destinations, with their effortlessly available ice, are drawing consideration as conceivable spots to develop future bases. These ice sheets were found below large slopes, and the interesting thing is that these ice sheets are made up of relatively clean water.

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