During Mars’ evolution, the tit of Mars could have led to an ice build-up closer to the planet’s equator. Image credit: NASA
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has spotted eight sites beneath the Martian surface where thick deposits of ice are exposed in faces of eroding slopes. These eight scarps – some as steep as 55 degrees – tell us previously unknown information about the internal layered structure of these ice sheets at Mars’ middle latitudes.
It’s most likely that the ice was originally deposited as snow a long time ago. These deposits are exposed in cross section as relatively pure water ice, from this they were covered by a layer of ice-cemented rock and dust one or two metres thick. Analysing this information could unveil Mars’ climate history, and could also provide helpful resources for future robotic or human exploration missions.
These sights were studied using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on MRO. The sites are in both the northern and southern hemispheres of Mars, ranging from about 55 to 58 degrees. This is equivalent on Earth to Scotland or the tip of South America.
“There is shallow ground ice under roughly a third of the ...