Steep slopes on Mars reveal structure of buried ice


In reality, there's a lot more going on with Mars than most people realize.

Locked away beneath the surface of Mars are vast quantities of water ice.

NASA's Phoenix lander had also dug up some ice near the Martian north pole in 2008, however, it is not clear if that is part of the big sheet. Dundas and his colleagues hypothesize that the ice originated as snow, falling in waves over millions of years. The sheets are at least 100 meters thick and appear to preserve layers that may help us reconstruct how the water ended up frozen there.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has discovered ice sheets 300-feet-thick running just below the Martian surface. All these things indicate that Mars was a watery planet in its initial phase and now it has become a dry and icy planet.

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Researchers are presently discussing the profitable data they may learn by penetrating a center out of one of these stores and taking it back to Earth. Dundas says ice at the surface is changing from strong into vapor, making the inclines fall and turn out to be additionally uncovered. Although previous studies made scientists ware of the ice deposits on the ice, the latest study can provide vital information about the thickness, layering, and purity of ice on the red planet. That suggests the bands were deposited over time and trap different periods in Mars' history.

"The ice could be a useful source of water for future missions to Mars", Dundas said. Thus, examining the layers could tell us about the history of how Mars' watery past came to a close.

"The deposits are exposed in a cross-section as relatively pure water ice, capped by a layer one to two yards (or meters) thick of ice-cemented rock and dust". These scarps are thought to be formed by a process called sublimation, where ice is lost to the atmosphere by transformation into water vapor without ever turning into liquid. The researchers estimate that this is causing the loss of about a millimeter a year, which suggests that the ice sheets were once considerably larger than they are today.

In 2011, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter sent back images of odd dark streaks on some slopes of Mars, news that reverberated throughout the scientific community, many members of which postulated that the geological feature could be a sign of flowing water. As they continue scanning the surface of Mars for other regions with ice, they hope to compare the conditions of differing regions to get a better understanding of how each spot is unique.