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12 January 2018, 04:02 | Justin Tyler
Mars captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Space Telescope Science Institute
Snow is rare on Mars today. In 2008, researchers even captured a full-scale avalanche on Mars as it plunged down a 2,300-foot slope into a valley. "Previous ideas for extracting human-usable water from Mars were to pull it from the very dry atmosphere or to break down water-containing rocks", said planetary scientist Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, a co-author of the study in the journal Science.
What Dundas saw that day, and subsequently found at seven other sites, are steep cliffs, up to 100 meters tall, that expose what appears to be almost pure ice. Still, whatever it is is more than 100 meters thick and probably at least 130 meters.
In a latest, researchers have located a thick layer of clean water ice under the surface of the Red Planet.
Eight scarps, with slopes as steep as 55 degrees, reveal new information about the internal layered structure of previously detected underground ice sheets in Mars middle latitudes, the U.S. space agency said. At the ice cliffs, Dundas and his team could see the glaciers in cross section, and they patiently revisited the sites to see how they changed over time.
A cross-section of a thick sheet of underground ice is exposed at the steep slope that appears bright blue in this enhanced-color view of Mars from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA'sMars Reconnaissance Orbiter in this image released on January 11, 2018.
"If we were to send humans to live on Mars for a substantial period of time, it would be a fantastic source of water", Balme said.
Wonderful images from NASA have revealed eight ice sites going as deep as 100 metres and just a few feet below the surface. It could also help direct future landers to sample the planet's water and possibly use it to support human landings.
These visible ice sheets are likely just a small representative of the total water ice on Mars. The research found eight different pockets of ice of varying size not far below the planet's surface. "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".
When NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft arrived on the planet in 2001, it found traces of hydrogen on the red planet through its gamma-ray spectrometer. 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.
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