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Large Mars ice discovery thrills scientists

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Scientists have found layers of ice buried meters under the Mars north pole that can help to unlock the Red Planet’s history.

Experts from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Arizona and harnessed the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to make the discovery. The ice, they say, would be the remains of the old polar ice caps and could be one of Mars’ largest reservoirs.

The study describes the discovery is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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“We did not expect to find this much water on the ice here,” said lead author Stefano Nerozzi, graduate research assistant at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) and a phd student at the Jackson School of Geosciences, in a statement. “Which probably makes it the third largest reservoir on Mars after the ice caps at the poles.”

A view of Mars that indicates the Red Planet’s northern polar ice cap.
(Credit: ISRO/ISSDC /Emily Lakdawalla)

The layers of ice are a record of Mars’ past climate, similar to the way tree rings record Earth’s past climate, scientists say. This can be a valuable clue as experts try to work out whether conditions on the Red Planet were enough to live.

The polar ice, if melted, would be equivalent to a global layer of water around Mars measuring at least 5 meters deep. “Surprisingly, the total volume of the water locked up in this buried polar deposits is about the same as all of the water ice known in glaciers and buried ice layers at lower latitudes on Mars, and they are about the same age,” said Jack Holt, a professor at the Lunar & Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona, in the statement.

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The researchers findings were confirmed by an independent study led by researchers at the John Hopkins University, who used gravity data, in contrast to radar.

A vertically exaggerated view of Mars’ north polar cap.
(Credit: SA/DLR/FU Berlin; NASA MGS MOLA Science Team)

Scientists get advanced technology to reveal the Red Planet’s secrets. In a separate project, earlier this year, for example, experts saw a huge impact crater on Mars.

The crater, which was also observed by NASA’s MRO, was created sometime between July and September of 2018, according to the scientists who are involved in the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).

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Managed by the University of Arizona, the powerful HiRISE camera is one of the six instruments on the MRO.

A composite image alternating layers of ice and sand in an area where they are exposed on the surface of Mars. The photo, taken with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the HiRISE camera is set on the water ice as well as light-coloured layers of sand and dark-colored layers of blue.
(Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Last year, in a major announcement, NASA revealed that the Curiosity Mars rover has found organic molecules on the Red Planet. Also in 2018, NASA released the first audio recording of Mars.

Mars looms ever larger in America space for the future.

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In November, NASA announced that it has been chosen for the location where the Mars 2020 will land Rover on the Red Planet. The rover is expected that the march on Feb. 18, 2021.

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NASA’s long-term goal is to have a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. However, the former astronaut Buzz Aldrin thinks that a slightly later target date of 2040 is more realistic. In an interview in 2016, the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut told Fox News that in 2040, the astronauts were able to visit Mars’ moon Phobos, which could serve as a kind of stepping stone to the Red Planet.

Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia, contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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