Recent research makes scientists believe they made an important discovery. Scientists stumbled upon a new portion of frozen water on Mars. The ice is particularly interesting as it is a layered mix of ice and sand, suggesting it is a remnant of ancient polar caps.
The study was made by analyzing data gathered by one of NASA’s Mars instruments, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The robot started its mission back in 2006, circling the red planet more than 60,000 times now. The spacecraft consists of a radar instrument that can see 2.5 kilometers into the planet’s surface. According to data delivered by the radar, most of Mars’ outer layers are made up of ice.
Stefano Nerozzi, the lead author of the study and doctoral student in geology at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, expressed his amazement, saying “We didn’t expect to find this much water ice here.” He also stated that the newly-found surface ice is classified as the third largest water reservoir on Mars, after the polar ice caps. The research was published by the American Geophysical Union.
Research Reveals A New Ice Mass On Mars Beneath The Red Planet’s North Pole
The second team of scientists conducted a separate study. They used gravitational data of the red planet, that was collected by NASA during many missions. Their discoveries back up the first team’s findings, revealing enough amounts of water that, if melted and spread evenly around Mars, it could flood the planet by 1.5 meters.
What is even more interesting is that it is not entirely made up of frozen water. The radar of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected several different patterns of ice surfaces, suggesting the ice consists of alternating layers of ice and sand.
The discovery could serve as proof that Mars ice caps melted hundreds of millions of years ago, then froze again as a result of the planet’s climate changes in time, resulting in the newly-found ice mass.