Although water ice deposits are known to exist from previous Mars missions, Dr. Dundas and co-authors analyzed the vertical structure and thickness of the exposed subsurface ice sheets using high-resolution imagery and topography from MRO’s HiRISE instrument. This new information is now being hailed by space scientists as a significant game-changer in our quest to colonize Mars. And the ice is buried by just a few feet of Martian dirt in places, meaning it might be accessible to future crewed missions.
Scientists believe the scarps detailed in the new study are formed by the sublimation process, as exposed ice evaporates into the atmosphere.
“Examination of some of the scarps with MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) confirmed that the bright material is frozen water”. More research needs to be done, but the ice sheets could act as a record of the climate history of Mars. Thick sheets of ice have been found beneath the surface of the Red Planet.
The idea that water ice is present on the red planet has always been explored; in 2002, NASA’s Odyssey mission monitored the planet from orbit to detect signs of shallow ground ice.
These ice-rich deposits are “geologically young”, the study authors write, though Dundas adds that they “can’t date these very precisely at this point”.
The study, published in Science Advances, appears to support data gathered in the recent years by Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft that suggests building blocks of life may be present on some of the neighbouring asteroids, particularly Ceres, which is the largest object in the asteroid belt.
Scientists say that pictures from Mars demonstrate huge inclines of ice – and give an indicate how they were shaped. “It’s like having one of those ant farms where you can see through the glass on the side to learn about what’s usually hidden beneath the ground”. In 2008, researchers even captured a full-scale avalanche on Mars as it plunged down a 2,300-foot slope into a valley. Each cliff seems to be the naked face of a glacier, tantalizing scientists with the promise of a layer-cake record of past martian climates and space enthusiasts with a potential resource for future human bases. It is likely that these ice layers found on the planet’s interior were the result of snow that had fallen on the planet a long time ago.
The cliffs are located in the northern and southern hemispheres of Mars, at a latitude of 55 to 58 degrees, which on Earth would be similar to Scotland or the tip of South America.
NASA scientists have determined that a primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!