Oceans of ice lie a metre beneath surface of Mars


Geologist Colin Dundas initially made the discovery, when he spotted blue lines on aerial photos of the Martian surface taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The 4,800 lb (2,200 kg) spacecraft launched in 2005 to broaden our understanding of Earth's celestial neighbor, looks like a enormous, winged insect, and has a wide range of imaging and sensor equipment aboard.

"The results are compelling, and consistent with previous hypotheses that there's shallow buried ice throughout huge areas of Mars", Cassie Stuurman, a recent graduate from UT Austin and an intern working in research and development at Planet Labs, told Gizmodo.

The bluish slopes were rather steep, having a slope that approached 55 degrees in some cases. The Red Planet is always thought of in popular culture as being one step less habitable than Utah - dry, sandy desert in all directions, with nothing but rocks and the occasional cannonball to break up the scenery.

Scientists have been making claims over finding signs of life on Mars for quite some time now. Fours years later, scientists presented evidence that the streaks were caused by hydrated minerals that flowed down the slopes in the Martian warm seasons.

That Mars still holds frozen water isn't a revelation.

That, however, has not yet been confirmed.

A scarp likely grows wider and taller as it "retreats", due to sublimation of the ice directly from solid form into water vapour.

The authors favor the idea that what they've found is indeed ice, probably mixed with dust, and was deposited during a time when Mars experienced snow. "They might even be a useful source of water for future human exploration of the red planet".

Do you have dreams of one day settling on Mars?

"There've been suggestions that, when there's high obliquity, the poles get heated a lot - they're tilted over and pointed more at the sun, and so that redistributes ice toward the midlatitudes", Dundas said. The scientists identified eighth such deposits of ice sheet exposed by erosions. Researchers discovered massive ice sheets in the planet's mid-latitudes that are believed to extend up to 100 meters deep and contain distinguishable layers that, "could preserve a record of Mars' past climate", the report says. "What we've seen here are cross-sections through the ice that give us a 3-D view with more detail than ever before".

Where we land, how long we visit, and what we bring along will all depend on the resources that await us-and how hard we'll have to work to get them.