Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

Deep, buried glaciers spotted on Mars

The deposits were found at seven geological formations called scarps with slopes up to 55 degrees in the southern hemisphere and one in the northern hemisphere Huge Underground Ice Sheets Discovered on Mars
Sandra Phillips | 13 January, 2018, 15:46

However, in a game-changing development, scientists have discovered huge ice sheets on Mars and they believe that it could provide an unlimited supply of water for the humans.

"The ice is concentrated in layered deposits at the poles, and also found in the shallow sub-surface at middle latitudes, as in our study".

Geological features comprising 300 feet of thick ice was exposed in the surface of Mars. I think it's sort of a game-changer. "Previous ideas for extracting human-usable water from Mars were to pull it from the very dry atmosphere or to break down water-containing rocks", said planetary scientist Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, a co-author of the study in the journal Science. With this combination, normal surface dust and minerals come out as the peach colour, while water ice stands out bright blue.

A radar instrument on the MRO previously detected signatures of thick, buried ice across the planet's belly, however, this latest study indicates a greater prevalence of Martian ice. Since there are few craters on the surface at these sites, the authors propose that the ice was formed relatively recently.

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These underground cliffs, or scarps, appear "to be almost pure ice", said the report.

"There is shallow ground ice under roughly a third of the Martian surface, which records the recent history of Mars", said Colin Dundas of the U S Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center. 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. "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". A scarp likely grows wider and taller as it "retreats", due to sublimation of the ice directly from solid form into water vapour.

A team led by USGS scientist Colin Dundas used the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which identified eight locations on the Red Planet which have steep, pole-facing cliffs, some as high as 325 feet that reveals slabs of clear ice, exposed by the forces of erosion. Byrne suggested that would-be visitors to Mars can just use a bucket and shovel and collect water from the sources. It is also possible that layers of snow were compressed every climate cycle, resulting to the building deposits of ice over time. It will also help NASA and other agencies plan upcoming rover and human missions to Mars.

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