Friday, 16 November, 2018

Scientists Have Discovered Massive Ice Sheets on Mars

Planetary scientists say a new analysis of data shows that thick ice sheets hide just below parts of the surface of Mars Planetary scientists say a new analysis of data shows that thick ice sheets hide just below parts of the surface of Mars
Frank Williams | 12 January, 2018, 16:03

They confirm previous theories that Mars holds super-thick sheets of ice, layered on top of each other, and will help scientists unravel the history of water and ice on Mars, says Colin Dundas, a researcher on the project.

While we've found plenty of ice near the pole during the Phoenix Lander mission, that's not a very convenient location for future landings (in part because the site ended up frozen over with dry ice during that pole's Martian winter).

Dundas' paper appears today in the journal Science.

The scientists say that the ice contains distinct layers, which could help to understand changes in the planet's climate over time. The image is from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

These images released by NASA show the surface of Mars.

Former ISRO director on 100th satellite launch
It will mark the PSLV's return-to-flight after a four-month grounding in the wake of a failure in August. The total weight of all the 31 satellites onboard the PSLV-C40 is about 1323kg.

The majority of the pictures were of locales in Mars' mid-scopes - around 55 degrees north or south of its equator.

"This subsurface ice could contain valuable records of the Martian climate, just like the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores", said Susan Conway, a planetary scientist at the University of Nantes in France. Terrestrial ice deposits are often mined to see what lies within, so perhaps one day we'll have the chance to sample Martian ice too. Furthermore, some of these massive ice deposits were found to be more than 330 feet (100 meters) thick.

Mars (over time periods of millions of years) wobbles on its axis; present day, it's at about 25°. Images of the erosional scarps reveal geologic features of the ice, such as banded patterns and color variations due to layering. Thus, examining the layers could tell us about the history of how Mars' watery past came to a close.

The discovery is very exciting: cliffs seem to be the face of glaciers hundreds of meters deep and composed of water ice. "And the spectrometer readings support that this is water ice and not ice-cemented soil, which would be much harder to convert into water as a resource". 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.

Which sounds great until one considers what every traveller to high alpine or polar climes knows: ice is less dense than water and it takes energy to melt it. The scientists identified eighth such deposits of ice sheet exposed by erosions. The research found eight different pockets of ice of varying size not far below the planet's surface.

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