Large sheets of ice may have been spotted on Mars

In this handout provided by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter dark narrow streaks on the slopes of Hale Crater are inferred to be formed by seasonal flow of water on surface of present-day Mars reported

NASA Mars orbiter finds thick layers of exposed water ice on Martian slopes

If colonists on Mars want to chill their gin and tonics, they won't have to dig far.

Additionally, the scientists discovered the ice sheets in eight difference places that could be future sources of water for astronauts.

Scientists and engineers have long-thought that ice could be a boon for human exploration of the red world. Under its reddish layer of dirt lie 300 ft. thick sheets of ice.

The images were taken and transmitted back to Earth by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. "Our research may be useful information but it will be up to them to determine how to use it". The slopes appear to be the product of erosion along the edges of a broad, smooth elevated plain. 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 was discovered in areas where the surface had seen a certain level of erosion showing sloped surface which was sometimes as steep as 55 degrees. That suggests the bands were deposited over time and trap different periods in Mars' history.

Scientists say that pictures from Mars demonstrate huge inclines of ice - and give an indicate how they were shaped. Images of the erosional scarps reveal geologic features of the ice, such as banded patterns and color variations due to layering. That's because water ice isn't stable at the pressures and temperatures found in these regions - which explains why the researchers observed it actively eroding, or sublimating. 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. We know there's water on this planet (particularly at the poles), and radio scans by MRO have hinted at thick, buried ice located along the planet's middle latitudes.

Here's how it works on Mars: When the planet is farther from the sun in its orbit, and it snows, that snow remains on the surface and becomes a buildup of ice. But of course it's hard to confirm the identity of the layers seen in radar echoes, and the instrument doesn't have the resolution to figure out how close the ice might be to the surface beyond "less than 20 meters".

"It is likely that ice near the surface is even more extensive than detected in this study", Dundas said. Researchers explain that regions like this may mean frozen water will be more easily accessible to humans and robots than previously anticipated.

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