The Mars Express probe has discovered large deposits of ice on the equator of Mars.

The Mars Express probe discovered that vast layers of soil several kilometers below the equator of Mars deeper than previously thought and they suggest the presence of ice to such an extent that it will be the largest amount of water found in this part of the planet.

The Mars Express mission carries twenty years of exploration of the red planet. Just over fifteen years ago, while studying the Medusa Fossa Formation (MFF), he discovered huge deposits up to 2.5 km deep, but was unable to specify what they were.

“We reexamined the MFF using more recent data from Mars Express’s MARSIS radar and found that the deposits are even thicker than we thought: up to 3.7 km thick“, details Thomas Watters of the Smithsonian Institution (USA), lead author of both the new study and the original 2007 study.

And the signals detected by MARSIS are “very similar” to signals from the polar caps of Mars, “which we know very rich in ice“, he notes.

In fact, these deposits are so large that if they melted, the buried ice would cover the entire planet with a layer of water 1.5 to 2.7 meters deep, enough to fill the Red Sea on Earth.

The existence of this large mass of ice will help to understand How did the planet’s climate evolve? but above all, it will be important for supplying future manned missions, the authors emphasize.

MMF, the largest source of Martian dust

The MFF is a series of wind-driven features hundreds of kilometers in diameter and several kilometers high that lie on the boundary between the high and low lands of Mars and may be largest source of Martian dust.

Early observations by Mars Express showed that the MFF was relatively radar transparency and low density – typical characteristics of ice deposits – but at that time it could not be ruled out that these were giant accumulations of dust, volcanic ash or sediments blown by the wind.

New analysis shows that contains layers of dust and icecovered with a thick layer of protective dust several hundred meters thick.

And although Mars is an arid world today, in the past there was a lot of waterwith dry river beds, ancient ocean and lake beds, and valleys cut by water.

They were also found important ice reservessuch as the huge polar ice caps, buried glaciers near the equator, and near-surface ice spreading across the Martian soil.

Climate history of Mars

But “how long ago did these ice deposits form and what was Mars like at that time? If confirmed to be water ice, these massive deposits would change our understanding climate history of Mars. “Any ancient water deposit would be an interesting target for human or robotic exploration,” says Colin Wilson, ESA’s Mars Express project scientist and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).

The scale and location of these frozen MFF deposits could also potentially make them Very valuable for our future exploration of Mars.

Missions to Mars will need land near the planet’s equatoraway from ice-rich polar caps or high-latitude glaciers, but they will need water as a resource, so finding ice in this region is almost a necessity for human missions to the planet.

“Unfortunately, these MFF deposits are covered with hundreds of meters of dust, making them unavailable for at least the next decades. “But every piece of ice we find will help us better understand where Martian water used to flow and where it might be today,” Wilson said.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button