Research

Large reserves of ice discovered on Mars

Is there water on Mars, what are its volumes and in whatthe state it is - questions that have been of interest to scientists for many years. Of course, it has long been known that water is present in small quantities on Mars, moreover, when the temperature on the planet rises, liquid streams even appear. However, we are talking about its scanty amount, while scientists are interested in large volumes. Let me remind you that the Red Planet was once completely covered with water, but then, with the loss of the magnetic field, it lost almost all of its liquid reserves. However, according to one of the versions, a large amount of water may still be under the planet's surface. Recently, this information was partially confirmed by the Exo Mars-TGO probe, as reported by the European Space Agency. According to the researchers, the probe revealed large volumes of ice that are hidden under the soil layer. The discovery was helped by the modern equipment with which the probe is equipped.

Is there ice under the surface of Mars?

As I said above, on the surface of Mars there isa small amount of water, which has been known for a long time. But most of it accumulated in the polar regions, where temperatures are always low. Of course, it is contained here in the form of ice. As for the equatorial zones, it was previously believed that there is no water at all. Previously, however, all missions, including ESA's Mars Express, were looking for ice exclusively on the surface. At the same time, it has always remained a mystery whether there is ice under the planet's surface.

TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) is a Russian-European spacecraft launched on March 14, 2016. The scientific mission began on April 21, 2018.

Finally, planetary scientists have the opportunityexplore Mars for the presence of water under the surface of Mars thanks to the Russian scientists' Frend spectrometer, which is equipped with the TGO probe. And already scientists were even able to get the first positive results. Studying data from the probe from 2018 to 2021, they found an area in the Mariner Valley with an abnormally high hydrogen content. Presumably, there is an accumulation of water under the ground. The discovery belongs to a team of Russian and Dutch scientists.

Mars TGO probe detects water under the soil

As a result, they managed to draw up a maphydrogen content in the soil. As the researchers note, this site has a large area, comparable in size to the Netherlands. It intersects with the valleys of Sincere Chaos, part of a canyon system that was previously assumed to contain large volumes of water.

How did you manage to find "permafrost on Mars"

Hydrogen was found in soil by fixingreflected neutrons, and not light, as was done earlier. Neutrons are formed when high-energy particles, also known as “galactic cosmic rays,” strike the planet's surface. Dry soils emit more neutrons than moist soils. Thus, researchers were able to find water in the soil.

A unique observation technique thatimplemented in the FREND device, has a higher spatial resolution than the equipment that was previously used. This allowed scientists to spot water bodies that were previously impossible to see.

According to scientists, the discovered ice on Mars resembles permafrost in the Arctic region of the Earth

Water can be under the soil layer as in the formice and water enclosed in minerals. However, according to other observations, the minerals in this part of Mars do not contain as much water. Therefore, according to the researchers, most likely they were able to find large reserves of ice, exists in the form of ice.

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According to scientists, what was discoveredequipment most of all resembles permafrost on Earth. That is, the ice is located under the ground, which remains dry on the surface as a result of constantly low temperatures.

Why hasn't the ice evaporated

In this part of Mars, ice tends to evaporate intoas a result of temperature and pressure conditions. Moreover, there is not even water associated with minerals. This raises the question - why didn't the water evaporate in the Mariner Valley? According to the researchers, there must be some special combination of conditions that can conserve water, or it is somehow constantly replenished.

It was previously thought that there could be no water on the Martian equator

As the authors of the work note, they needconduct a series of additional studies to say exactly what they were able to find. However, regardless of the results, the discovery demonstrates the effectiveness of the probe's equipment. This means that new perspectives have opened up for planetary scientists in the exploration of Mars.