American astronomers report findinga new cache with significant reserves of water ice, occurring at a depth of about one and a half kilometers below the surface of the north pole of Mars. Scientists believe that this ice is the remains of ancient polar ice sheets and is the largest accumulation of water on Mars. Researchers reported about their discovery in an article published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Make a discovery to a group of scientists from Texas andArizona Universities was assisted by the SHARAD (Shallow Subsurface Radar) radar installed on the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter orbital interplanetary spacecraft, which is located on the Red Planet since 2006 and has completed 60,000 orbital overflights of our planetary neighbor by now. The radar operates in the high-frequency radio band from 15 to 25 MHz and is capable of collecting data on the structure of the Martian depths to a depth of more than 2.5 kilometers. The device was developed by scientists from the Italian Space Agency. He showed that in some layers under the North Pole the ice content reaches 90%. Radar observations were analyzed and verified through an independent study using gravity data.
“We did not expect to find so much water ice here. This probably makes it the third largest cluster of water on Mars after polar ice caps, ”commented the discovery by study lead author Stefano Nerozzi from the University of Texas Geophysics Institute.
The reserves are really huge, scientists say. They explain that if this ice melts, then the whole of Mars will be covered with a layer of water, one and a half meters deep.
Researchers suggest that the layersformed when ice accumulated at the poles of Mars during the last ice ages millions of years ago. Each time the planet was heated, the remains of ice caps were covered with sand, which protected the ice from solar radiation and prevented it from dispersing into the atmosphere.
Scientists have long known that the history of Marsglacial periods occur periodically due to changes in its orbit and axis tilt. Approximately every 50 thousand years, the planet leans towards the Sun, and then gradually returns to its upright position. When the axis of rotation of the planet is vertical, equatorial areas are closest to the Sun, and ice can accumulate at the poles. When Mars bends, the ice caps gradually decrease and may disappear completely. But until now it was believed that no evidence of previous glaciations has been preserved.
Researchers note that studying the structure andThe composition of these ice deposits will help determine what the climate of Mars was in the distant past, as well as make more complete maps of the planet’s water resources. This information may be extremely important not only because in the future humanity plans to colonize this planet, but also because the presence of water can indicate the presence of traces of life on the Red Planet.
"If we want to extract water on Mars once,it is very important for us to understand what its reserves in the past were available on the planet on a global scale, and how much of it could be preserved in its polar regions. You can have all the favorable conditions for the existence of life, but if the main reserves of water are concentrated at the poles, then for life, which could exist closer to the equator, there may be a shortage of water, ”says Nerozzi.
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