Steep slopes on Mars reveal structure of buried ice

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The remarkable ice cliffs appear to contain distinct layers, which could preserve a record of Mars' past climate, according to the.

However, some of it stayed behind, transforming into ice that settled under the rocky surface. They found the ice at the northern and southern hemispheres of Mars, which is equivalent to Earth's regions like South America or Scotland, and believe it could "be a useful source of water for future human exploration of the red planet", they wrote.

Scientists, using a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) spacecraft, have discovered thick deposits of ice beneath the surface of Mars.

The results revealed massive subsurface ice sheets on the planet extending from just below the surface to a depth of at least 100 meters (328ft). They used MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) to verify that these locations revealed the spectral signature of water. I think it's sort of a game-changer. However, previous scans using the MRO's Shallow Radar instrument were not enough to determine the extent and make-up of ice on the Red Planet. This discovery came from spotting the edges of these deposits, which are eroding away to form tall cliffs that expose the ice to the thin Martian air.

These underground cliffs, or scarps, appear "to be almost pure ice", said the report. "It's like having one of those ant farms where you can see through the glass on the side to learn about what's usually hidden beneath the ground".

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"We've found a new window into the ice for study, which we hope will be of interest to those interested in all aspects of ice on Mars and its history, " The Washington Post reported quoting Colin Dundas, a member of the US Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center in Arizona and an author of a report published Thursday in the journal Science.

Scientists said once the buried ice is exposed to Mars' atmosphere, a scarp likely grows wider and taller as it retreats.

There's a lot of mystery surrounding Mars, but scientists have recently made a groundbreaking discovery: ice.

"Astronauts could essentially just go there with a bucket and a shovel and get all the water they need", said co-author Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson. "Our interpretation is that this is consolidated snow deposited in geologically recent times", Dundas said. It will also help NASA and other agencies plan upcoming rover and human missions to Mars.

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