But the ice content of the geology in between-the first 20 meters or so-is largely uncharacterized.
Tanya N. Harrison, a director of research at Arizona State University's NewSpace Initiative, says this is "a really exciting paper" that provides the first direct observational evidence of the nature of the thick mantling deposits that cover much of Mars' higher latitudes in both hemispheres.
Now, scientists have discovered such a site.
In 2005, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) was launched to explore Mars.
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The scientists also learned that the ice, which was exposed due to erosion on hillside cliffs, contains little rock and dust particles, meaning it's "relatively pure water ice" that could be used be "readily accessible to future exploration missions", the Geological Survey agency said.
These visible ice sheets are likely just a small representative of the total water ice on Mars. Excessive salinity is a potential problem that would require future colonists to bring clunky desalination devices to the Red Planet. Dundas says ice at the surface is changing from strong into vapor, making the inclines fall and turn out to be additionally uncovered.
The ice found this time isn't crystal clear.
"One of the most interesting observations was seeing boulders fall out at one scarp, which suggested that it's actively sublimating or retreating, and also helped confirm that it was exposed ice and not surface frost", Dundas said.
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But some debris is to be expected.
The ice was likely deposited as snow long ago. According to an in-depth analysis led by the USGS, the images reveal never-before-observed details about the ice sheets, including that some begin just a few feet below the Martian surface and extend to depths greater than 300 feet.
Daily Star brings you the most mesmerizing images from Mars alongside fascinating facts about the mysterious planet. "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".
But before you start packing your bags and preparing for your new life as a Martian, there's one major problem: All eight sites that are suspected of having clean water ice are located about 55 degrees north or south of Mars' equator, where temperatures are incredibly low. All these things indicate that Mars was a watery planet in its initial phase and now it has become a dry and icy planet. As Zurek puts it: "If you wanna stay warm, it's better to be in Hawaii than Alaska".
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