Friday, 17 August, 2018

Mars has seething sheets of ice below its surface

Mars captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.                  Space Telescope Science Institute Mars captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Space Telescope Science Institute
Theresa Hayes | 12 January, 2018, 14:58

Richard Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in an interview with Wired that "On Mars, when you see something bright, it usually means ice".

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.

"If we were to send humans to live on Mars for a substantial period of time, it would be a fantastic source of water", Matt Balme, a planetary scientist in Britain, said. This could, in return, give some more insights about Mars' climatic conditions in the past.

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. 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. "Our research may be useful information but it will be up to them to determine how to use it".

"That saved record would be of outrageous significance to backpedal to", G. Scott Hubbard, a space researcher at Stanford University, enlightens Science in a different article concerning the exploration.

Throwing some more light about the latest icy imagery of Mars, Dundas said, "The take-home message is, these are nice exposures that teach us about the 3D structure of the ice, including that the ice sheets begin shallowly, and also that there are fine layers".

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. NASA scientists believe that the ice closer to the surface could be quite pure and should be easy to extract as well. Imaging with a spectrograph provided evidence of water at the Martian surface in the region, reinforcing the idea that this could be ice.

There have likewise been noteworthy inquiries regarding how unadulterated Mars ice is.

"The ice is a critical target for science and exploration", Dundas said. If there is water on Mars, it likely comes from water vapor-there are very low levels of the stuff in the atmosphere-or underground ice.

There are plans to get humans to Mars by the 2030s.

NASA are now making accessing the ice a goal for future missions.

Fortunately, scientists still have some time to pinpoint Mars' reservoirs of water ice.