Blue planet? Ice discovery at Mars equator offers new insight

Big tracts of ice might lie below equatorial areas of Mars, scientists stated on Thursday, difficult present understanding of the planet.

New radar knowledge reveals that all the planet could be engulfed in water if the ice deposits melted, the worldwide crew of US and European scientists stated.

They re-examined the Medusae Fossae Formation (MFF) on the planet, utilizing knowledge from the Mars Categorical orbiter’s Marsis radar, and now consider there are main deposits of ice below the floor of the Pink Planet.

“We’ve explored the MFF once more … and located the deposits to be even thicker than we thought, as much as 3.7km thick,” stated lead writer Thomas Watters of the Smithsonian Establishment.

“Excitingly, the radar alerts match what we’d anticipate to see from layered ice, and are much like the alerts we see from Mars’s polar caps, which we all know to be very ice-rich.”

The deposits had been recognized beforehand but it surely was not recognized what they have been comprised of.

“This newest evaluation challenges our understanding of the Medusae Fossae Formation, and raises as many questions as solutions,” stated Colin Wilson, European Area Company venture scientist for Mars Categorical.

The MFF consists of a number of wind-sculpted options measuring tons of of kilometres throughout and several other kilometres excessive.

If melted, the ice might cowl the planet in a layer of water as much as 2.7m deep, or sufficient to fill Earth’s Pink Sea.

“How way back did these ice deposits kind, and what was Mars like at the moment? If confirmed to be water ice, these large deposits would change our understanding of Mars’ local weather historical past,” Mr Wilson stated.

“Any reservoir of historical water could be an interesting goal for human or robotic exploration.”

Mars Categorical knowledge confirmed the MFF to be comparatively clear to radar and low in density, each traits of icy deposits.

The brand new outcomes recommend layers of mud and ice, topped by a protecting layer of mud or ash a number of hundred metres thick.

The extent and site of the icy deposits would additionally make them probably very helpful for our future exploration of Mars.

“Sadly, these MFF deposits are coated by tons of of metres of mud, making them inaccessible for a minimum of the following few many years,” the crew stated.

“Nonetheless, each little bit of ice we discover helps us construct a greater image of the place Mars’s water has flowed earlier than, and the place it may be discovered at present.”

Missions to Mars might want to land close to the planet’s equator, removed from the ice-rich polar caps or high-latitude glaciers.

They’ll want water as a useful resource, so discovering ice within the area opens up new desires of exploration.

Up to date: January 18, 2024, 2:00 PM


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