NASA Finds Water Ice On Mars; Could Life Be Possible?

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The next NASA Mars mission could be easier for astronauts to find water for their needs. The space agency is close to finding the possible landing location on Mars for astronauts where they can find water ice with just a shovel. A research paper published in the Geophysical Research Letter by the American Geophysical Union has helped to map the water ice.

NASA Finds Water Ice In Shallow Deposits On Mars

 

NASA Finds Water Ice: Details

The journal says that water ice deposits are as little as one inch below the Martian surface. "You wouldn't need a backhoe to dig up this ice. You could use a shovel. We're continuing to collect data on buried ice on Mars, zeroing in on the best places for astronauts to land," said Sylvain Piqueux of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and the lead author of the paper.

The Martian water ice was discovered throughout the Martian poles and the mid-latitudes. NASA is planning to focus on several shallow deposits of water ice. The journal says that little air pressure on the atmosphere doesn't allow the water to last on the surface. The water evaporates from solid to gas quickly and so, the ice deposits are hidden underground where it can survive.

"Martian water ice is locked away underground throughout the planet's mid-latitudes. These regions near the poles have been studied by NASA's Phoenix lander, which scraped up ice, and MRO, which has taken many images from space of meteor impacts that have excavated this ice," NASA wrote in its blog post.

NASA Finds Water Ice In Shallow Deposits On Mars

 

Mars Water Ice To Help Astronauts

NASA says the astronauts can easily dig up the ice. The NASA MRO's Mars Climate Sounder and the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey that are two heat-sensitive instruments were used for the study. The heat-sensitive instruments were able to detect the differences in the surface temperature as the underground ice affects the surface temperature.

Mars' Arcadia Planitia, a region shaped by ancient lava flows could be the likely spot for future astronaut landing. The region has large amounts of water ice deposits that can easily be tapped by the astronauts, instead of taking huge amounts of water from the Earth.

However, NASA also notes that the research is still incomplete. The study will continue exploring underground water ice on Mars to observe the seasonal changes. This too could affect the water ice deposits and could play a crucial role in future Mars missions.

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