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Jan 12, 2018 05:40 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Space agency NASA discovers ice layers beneath the surface of Mars

The discovery was made with the aid of High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) that has been probing the planet

Scientists have discovered thick sheets of ice under the surface of Mars. The discovery of ice on the planet could be a big asset to any future exploration that is aimed at colonising the red planet.

NASA said in a report on its website that its researchers discovered eight sites right beneath the planet’s surface having thick ice deposits. The discovery was made with the aid of High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) that has been probing the planet.

The ice was discovered in areas where the surface had seen a certain level of erosion showing sloped surface which was sometimes as steep as 55 degrees. It is likely that these ice layers found on the planet's interior were the result of snow that had fallen on the planet a long time ago.

‘The deposits are exposed in a cross-section as relatively pure water ice, capped by a layer one to two yards (or meters) thick of ice-cemented rock and dust. They hold clues about Mars' climate history. They also may make frozen water more accessible than previously thought to future robotic or human exploration missions,’ stated the report.

According to researchers, the discovery of ice that was made in both southern and northern hemisphere of the red planet points towards a larger availability of water than previously thought.

“There is shallow ground ice under roughly a third of the Martian surface, which records the recent history of Mars… What we’ve seen here are cross-sections through the ice that give us a 3-D view with more detail than ever before,” Colin Dundas of the US Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center was quoted saying in the report.

The findings gain significance at a time when ideas about exploration and human settlement of the red planet are gaining momentum across various circles. If the findings can pave the way for developing a future source for water this could be a great aid for human ventures to the red planet.
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