WASHINGTON – Scientists the use of photographs from an orbiting NASA spacecraft have detected 8 websites the place massive ice deposits close to the Martian surface are uncovered on steep slopes, a possible supply of water that might assist maintain long term human outposts.
While scientists already knew that a couple of 3rd of the surface of Mars accommodates shallow flooring ice and that its poles harbor primary ice deposits, the analysis revealed on Thursday described thick underground ice sheets uncovered alongside slopes as much as 100 yards tall on the planet’s center latitudes.
“It was surprising to find ice exposed at the surface at these places. In the mid-latitudes, it’s normally covered by a blanket of dust or regolith,” free bits of rock atop a layer of bedrock, stated analysis geologist Colin Dundas of the USA Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, who led the learn about.
The latitudes have been the an identical on Earth of Scotland or the end of South America.
The researchers used photographs from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has studied the Martian environment and terrain since 2006, together with the historical past of obvious water flows on or close to the surface.
The findings confirmed that ice is also extra to be had than prior to now recognized to be used as water to give a boost to long term robot or human exploration missions, in all probability even the status quo of an enduring Mars base. The water may well be used for ingesting and probably conversion into oxygen to respire.
“Humans need water wherever they go and it’s very heavy to carry with you. 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,” stated planetary scientist Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, a co-author of the learn about within the magazine Science.
“Here we have what we think is almost pure water ice buried just below the surface. You don’t see a high-tech solution,” Byrne added. “You can go out with a bucket and shovel and just collect as much water as you need. I think it’s sort of a game-changer. It’s also much closer to places humans would probably land as opposed to the polar caps, which are very inhospitable.”
The deposits have been discovered at seven geological formations referred to as scarps, with slopes as much as 55 levels, within the southern hemisphere and one within the northern hemisphere.
“Our interpretation is that this is consolidated snow deposited in geologically recent times,” Dundas stated.