NASA discovers ancient polar ice cap remnants on Red Planet

NASA informed that water has been discovered in ice sheets under Mars north pole. A landmark NASA study has discovered an enormous deposit of water-ice locked within Mars surface. The research comes from radar information garnered from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, depicting ancient ice sheets buried deep beneath the Red Planet’s north pole. And the NASA researchers also report conclusive evidence these ice caps wax and wane as a result of the tilt and orbit of Mars in a manner resembling Earth. The amount of ice stratified into sand deposits is so significant, NASA reports, that if it were melted down, the water would form a planet-wide pool five feet deep.

Dr Stefano Nerozzi of the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics and lead author of the new study said, we did not expect to find this much water ice here. That likely makes it the third-largest water reservoir on Mars after the polar ice caps. 

NASA believes the layers of ice formed on Mars during past ice ages and were sheltered from warming solar radiation by sand covering their surface. While scientists have long suspected Mars’ past glacial activity, which was influenced by the planet’s tilting and wobbling toward or away from the sun over countless millennia, ice caps were thought to have disappeared from Mars. Instead, much of that ice was in fact locked inside the planet’s surface, researchers have announced.

Dr Nerozzi said, surprisingly, the total volume of water locked up in these buried polar deposits is roughly the same as all the water ice known to exist in glaciers and buried ice layers at lower latitudes on Mars, and they are approximately the same age. Understanding how much water was available globally versus what is trapped in the poles is important if you’re going to have liquid water on Mars. You can have all the right conditions for life, but if most of the water is locked up at the poles, then it becomes difficult to have sufficient amounts of liquid water near the equator.

The research has implications on not only how Mars looks today, but also how the red planet’s climate may have, in the past, been conducive to life as we know it on Earth. 

Earlier this year, Nasa’s Curiosity rover found potential building blocks of life in an ancient Martian lakebed. The organic molecules preserved in 3.5 billion-year-old bedrock in Gale Crater believed to have once contained a shallow lake suggest conditions back then may have been conducive to life.

As the prospects of human space colonization become increasingly realistic, the habitability of Mars by humans is becoming an area of greater interest by bother private and public parties. NASA recently awarded one company a $500,000 grand prize for designing the concept for a human-ready habitat that could be produced and replicated on Mars using 3D printing. And revolutionary aerospace company SpaceX, owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, is also aggressively pursuing the first manned space mission to mars.

The company’s Starhopper, which aims to take humans to both the moon and Mars, is readying to take its first flight which could come as soon as next week.

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