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There's a huge amount of water ice on Mars (it could be long lost polar ice caps)



Scientists believe they discovered a new cache of water ice on Mars – not just some ice, but a layered mixture of ice and sand, the last vestiges of long-lost polar ice caps ,

This is shown by new research based on data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2006 and has just undertaken its 60,000th voyage around Mars . On board the spacecraft is a radar device that is visible about 2.5 kilometers below the surface of the earth – and in this data scientists see a lot of ice.

"We did not expect to find so much water ice here," said lead author Stefano Nerozzi, graduate student in geology at the University of Texas's Institute of Geophysics, in a statement of the American Geophysical Union, in which the new research results were published. "This makes it probably the third largest water reservoir on Mars after the polar ice caps."

Related: The south pole of Mars can hide a large underground lake

This is a lot water . And the sheer volume of water ice in the region is underpinned by a second study conducted by an overlapping team of scientists. This research used gravitational data over Mars, which NASA had collected from several missions to the Red Planet. But even with this technique, the region is overcrowded with water ice ̵

1; enough that Mars is flooded with an even distribution around the planet with a tide of 1.5 meters.

Even more interesting is that it is not pure ice – the radar has recorded several different ice surfaces in the region in a pattern suggesting that ice and sand stripes alternate.

If this finding persists, these layers could represent the remains of ice caps that graced the masts of Mars hundreds of millions of years ago. If so, the layers may be indicative of how the Martian climate has warmed and cooled over the eons in response to tiny changes in the orbit and inclination of the planet.

An image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows bright water ice layers mixed with darker sand layers, all patches strewn with bright white frost.

(Photo: © NASA / JPL / University of Arizona)

The new research also helps scientists identify where water resources are located on Mars – and that's critical to finding life when it does which gives life or its traces, they are most likely near water .

"Nerozzi said," They may have the right living conditions, but if most of the water is trapped at the poles, it will be difficult to have enough liquid water near the equator. "

The instrument that The layers discovered is not the only radar device on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter .A second device on board has also looked below the surface of the Red Planet, and in July a team of scientists released results pointing to it suggest that a lake with very salty water buried in the south under 1.6 kilometers of ice is pole of Mars.

The Research on the stratified deposits and the research in support of the estimated ice volume is described in two papers published today (May 22) in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Email to Meghan Bar mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels . Follow us on Twitter @SpaceTotcom and on Facebook .


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