The prospect of finding life on Mars has been deeply discussed by scientists and researchers for quite a while now. The presence of water on the red planet has long been a topic of debate amongst many, and now a new report has claimed that the surface of Mars may be hiding huge quantities of surface ice.
The report, by Wired, claims that it is not sure how pure this ice is or in what form it is present in. The rocky terrain on Mars makes it difficult to dissect information about what’s on or below the surface of the red planet.
The probes currently present on Mars can reportedly only dig up to a depth of a few centimeters into the planet’s surface and radar can give us details to about a further 10-20 meters or so. However, scientists, using a powerful camera aboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, seem to have discovered several sites where land has been eroded over time, giving a direct view of the subterranean layers of the planet’s crust.
The frozen water found in these sites are mineable, according to this week’s issue of Science. These newly discovered sites (eight sites to be precise) show the formation of ice starting from as low as one meter and stretching to nearly 100’s of meters below the surface. NASA claims that the ice closer to the surface could be quite pure and should be easy to extract as well.
Richard Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in an interview with Wired that “On Mars, when you see something bright, it usually means ice. And the spectrometer readings support that this is water ice and not ice-cemented soil, which would be much harder to convert into water as a resource.”
However, there is a slight problem. The sites discovered are reportedly between 55 and 60 degrees north or south of the equator, where temperatures can drop extremely low. Future Mars missions would most likely be landing close to the equator, where warmer climate may melt the ice closer to the surface, making it harder to mine.