Enormous Red Planet’s Ice Detection Opens A Window Into Its History

As per the researchers at the University of Arizona and the University of Texas at Austin, the freshly revealed ice layers hidden a mile under the Red Planet’s north pole are the leftovers of ancient polar ice sheets and might be one of the major water basins on the Mars. The research team has made this detection by means of the measurements collected by the Shallow Radar on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of NASA. Shallow Radar radiates radar waves that can go up to a mile and a half under the surface of the Red Planet.

The discoveries, published in Geophysical Research Letters, are significant as these ice layers are the information of the previous climate on the planet. By studying the geometry and structure of these layers of ice, the researchers might get some understanding about the climate conditions that were earlier suited for life or not. The team brings into being the layers of ice and sand that were as much as 90% water in many places. If liquefied, the recently revealed polar ice would be comparable to a global water layer all over the Red Planet which is at least 5 feet deep. The researchers didn’t expect to find this much water ice there. According to the lead author of the research Stefano Nerozzi, this probably marks it the third biggest water tank on the Red Planet after the polar ice caps. The discoveries were validated by a self-governing study with gravity data as a replacement for radar, controlled by scientists at Johns Hopkins University.

As per authors, the layers were made when ice mount up at the poles throughout the past ice ages on the Red Planet. Each time the Mars heated up, a leftover of the ice caps turn out to be sheltered by sand, which safe the ice from solar radiation and stopped it from dissolving into the atmosphere.

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