Multiple sites rich in water ice found on Mars

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However, in a game-changing development, scientists have discovered huge ice sheets on Mars and they believe that it could provide an unlimited supply of water for the humans. The ice could be a useful source of water for future missions to Mars.

The researchers used images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has studied the Martian atmosphere and terrain since 2006, including the history of apparent water flows on or near the surface.

Erosion has exposed eight ice sites, some as shallow as a few feet (one meter) below the surface, and going as deep as 100 meters or more, researchers said.

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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.

The research, using images from a Nasa spacecraft now orbiting the Red Planet, found that there are eight sites that appear to have huge ice deposits on steep slopes.

'Humans need water wherever they go, and it's very heavy to carry with you, ' said Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson, a co-author on today's report.

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The sites are in both northern and southern hemispheres of Mars, at latitudes from about 55 to 58 degrees, equivalent on Earth to Scotland or the tip of South America. "You don't see a high-tech solution", Byrne added. I think it's sort of a game-changer.

However, some of it stayed behind, transforming into ice that settled under the rocky surface. "You can go out with a bucket and shovel and just collect as much water as you need". Radio scans by MRO suggest existence of thick, buried ice along the planet's middle latitudes.

Because the ice is only visible where surface soil has been removed, Dundas et al. say it is likely that ice near the surface is even more extensive than detected in this study. Whilst water ice is known to be present in some locations on Mars, many questions remain about its layering, thickness, purity, and extent. These images helped Colin Dundas, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, and team discover eight steep cliffs of what appears to be nearly pure ice.

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