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Last Updated : May 30, 2019 12:56 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Mars has enough water to submerge the entire planet: Study

The Shallow Radar or SHARAD, an instrument mounted on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, was used by the researchers to make these observations.

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The Red Planet (Image: NASA)
The Red Planet (Image: NASA)

A massive reservoir of frozen water has been detected on Mars. Using ground-penetrating radar, scientists fished out water that lies under layers of sand beneath the ice cap in Martian northern pole. It is believed that this reservoir has enough ice to submerge the entire planet if melted.

“This was a surprise even for us.” said Stefano Nerozzi, the lead author of the research paper and a PhD student of the University of Texas.

According to a report by Gizmodo.com, the layer of ice was found in Mars’ northern cavi unit, which is a deposit of several layers of frozen water and sand that solidified over hundreds of millions of years.

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The cavi unit is located around two kilometre under the north pole. Until recently, scientists were of the opinion that it comprised primarily of sand dunes and contained lesser than 50 percent water ice. These assumptions were made on the basis of visible outcrop observations, which revealed there were large amounts of dark sand and a much lesser amount of frozen water in the mix.

The study, published in the research journal Geophysical Research Letters last week,  mentioned that the recent radar scans are hinting at a larger amount of water ice mix in the cavi unit. This could turn it into the third-largest water reservoir on Mars. The other two would be the two polar ice caps on the Red Planet.

The horizontal slabs contained water ice ranging from 61 to 88 per cent by volume; this means that the cavi unit is actually primarily made up of ice and not sand. If melted, the polar ice would cover Mars with a 5-feet-deep layer of water.

Notably, the Shallow Radar or SHARAD, an instrument mounted on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, was used to make these observations. The surface-penetrating radar waves emitted by SHARAD helped the team of researchers study the cavi unit’s internal structure and composition.

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First Published on May 30, 2019 12:53 pm
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