Mars ice cliffs could be key to supporting life on Red Planet

Mars ice cliffs could be key to supporting life on Red Planet

Mars ice cliffs could be key to supporting life on Red Planet

Now, according to a new study published on January 11 in the journal Science, scientists have found big sheets of water ice on Mars.

What's more, the relatively shallow deposits of ice may mean that frozen water is more accessible to future human exploration missions than scientists had previously realized.

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".

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. It will probably need to be separated from debris that ended up in the water over time, but you can make it work, say the scientists.

These ice deposits could start just 1 to 2 meters beneath the surface but extend more than 100 meters (or more than 328 feet) deep.

While scientists have long known about the red planet's sub-surface ice sheets, this is the first time ice has been seen exposed and easily accessible.

The underground water ice deposits were previously mapped out by the MRO's Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument, but there were limits to what could be learned from those scans.

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

Using the MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, the team was able to get a cross sectional look at the ice to learn more about its composition and depth.

However, once the buried ice becomes exposed to Mars" atmosphere, a scarp likely grows wider and taller as it "retreats, ' due to sublimation of the ice directly from solid form into water vapor.

Images obtained by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have helped researchers locate traces of ice cropping out in small craters, glaciers and ice sheets.

"This subsurface ice could contain valuable records of the Martian climate, just like the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores", said Susan Conway, a planetary scientist at the University of Nantes in France.

'Humans need water wherever they go, and it's very heavy to carry with you, ' said Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson, a co-author on today's report. The study examined north and south pole-facing erosional slopes, known as scarps, in eight locations around Mars, all in the mid-latitudes. Such details suggest ice layers with different proportions of ice and dust that could have formed under varying climate conditions. They found out three dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars. It turned out he was looking at steep cliffs almost 330 feet (100 m) tall with exposed ice.

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