Scientists discovered a giant deposit of water ice on Mars bigger than New Mexico.
Researchers used the ground penetrating radar of NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and found the deposit is between 260 and 560 feet thick, and likely consists of 50 to 85 percent water-ice, mixed with dust or larger rocky particles.
This huge ice deposit means that water is likely much more common on Mars than scientists thought and could potentially be a huge resource for future astronauts exploring the Red Planet.
“We don’t understand fully why ice has built up in some areas of the Martian surface and not in others,” Dr. Joe Levy, a co-author of the study at the University of Texas, said in a press statement. “Sampling and using this ice with a future mission could help keep astronauts alive, while also helping them unlock the secrets of Martian ice ages.”
Scientists suspect that part of the deposit may have been melted, which could create a great environment for life to develop on Mars. The new study is just the latest to determine that The Red Planet may contain habitats which can potentially support life.
Earlier this month, NASA funded scientists at the University of Texas concluded that Martian “ice cauldrons” could be the key to finding life on the Red Planet.
Formed by volcanoes and glaciers, the cauldrons are a nearly ideal chemical environment for life to develop and flourish. Lava from volcanoes and ice from glaciers would combine to form a fairly warm environment by Martian standards and have access to a lot of water ice, and potentially even liquid water.
In September, NASA-sponsored geologists at the University of Aberdeen found that hydrogen, a critical component necessary to support life, can be produced by earthquakes on Earth. They concluded that the same kind of “Marsquakes” could produce hydrogen on Mars, removing a major barrier to life.
NASA is also considering plans to put a large space station in orbit above Mars by 2028, according to plans outlined in August by major aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin. Astronauts would live aboard the “Mars Base Camp” for a year to collect information in preparation for the first manned landing. Lockheed Martin’s plan will construct a 132-ton space station around Mars capable of hosting six astronauts for a year. In comparison, the International Space Station weighs about 440 tons.
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