Scientists have found an ancient glacier on Mars, under which water ice may be hiding. This means that astronauts can have access to water in a completely different region of the planet.
American scientists have presented a new study in which they used observational data from the MRO orbiter. As a result, researchers have discovered near the equator of Mars the remains of an ancient glacier, under which water ice may be hiding. If these data are confirmed, this discovery could have significant implications for future human exploration of the Red Planet, writes Space.
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According to scientists from the SETI Institute and the Mars Institute, they found light deposits on the surface of the planet near the equator, which consist of sulfate salts and have signs of an ancient glacier. According to scientists, the glacier is 6 km long, 4 km wide and 1.7 km high.
Planetologist Pascal Lee explains that the discovered structure is not ice, but salt deposits that have the morphological characteristics of a glacier. Scientists believe that salt deposits formed on the top of the glacier, and the water ice itself is hidden under this surface formation.
Li said the new data indicate that ice on the surface of Mars may have appeared later than previous theories suggested. This means that scientists may need to reconsider when the Red Planet was habitable, and it is also of paramount importance for the further study of Mars.
Scientists believe that such signs of a glacier could be formed as a result of volcanic activity on Mars. Where some of the volcanic matter reacted with water, a hardened layer of sulfate salts could form. The volcanic material likely eroded over time, exposing a layer of salt that formed features unique to glaciers, scientists say.
Salt deposits, shown in blue, are preserved where a glacier probably existed near the Martian equator.
Previous studies have shown that glacial activity has been observed near the equator, but in a much more distant past. And later glacial activity was observed only at higher latitudes, closer to the polar regions of Mars.
According to Li, the discovered remains of the glacier are geologically young, and this suggests that ice in the relatively recent past existed even near the equator, and this is a completely new discovery for scientists.
Researchers believe there is a chance to find water ice from which water can be extracted under a layer of sulfate salts. If water ice is found near the equator, this would mean that astronauts could be sent to establish a base in a region where conditions are much better than at higher latitudes.
Water ice that can be extracted from water can be found at shallow depths, Li said. If we add to this a not as cold climate as in the polar regions, where the first human landing is planned so far, this suggests that this area may be the best solution for both astronauts and robotic vehicles.
It remains only to find out if there is water ice in this ancient glacier, and if it is present, then in what quantity, scientists say.
As Focus wrote, the first flying machine on another planet, the Ingenuity helicopter, is on its way to making its 50th flight over the surface of Mars. For almost 2 years of being on the planet, the device was able to overcome a total distance of more than 10 km. His “partner” rover Perseverance was able to film the process of a helicopter flight in the rarefied atmosphere of Mars.
Focus also wrote that scientists have made an important discovery, which concerns a planet not as studied as Mars, but one that is very intriguing to scientists. We are talking about Venus, which will be studied in detail by two spacecraft only starting from the beginning of the next decade. But thanks to archival data that is more than 30 years old, scientists were able to find out that volcanic activity is still ongoing on Venus.
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