Scientists have discovered an ice sheet, ranging in thickness from 260 to 560 feet, larger than the state of New Mexico lies in Mars’ Utopia Planitia, using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s ground-penetrating radar. Thanks to the area’s surface cracking and depression, they had long suggested that the area had water. However, for the former explorer, the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, it wasn’t possible to study much deeper than the surface.
The Waters of Mars
The researchers told the New York Times that the ice sheet perhaps gathered as part of a Martian ice age and was interred before it could dissolve into a lake or vaporize into space. They believe the ice is at least 50 percent pure water, with rocks, dirt and perforated empty spaces mixed in.
The discovery of such ice sheet is very important for us to understand about Mars’ past, as well as to study its future. This could help the astronauts to find a more convenient place than the poles to set up a long-term settlement, knowing that they’d still have a constant local supply of drinking water. In addition, they could split the water into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel. It means the astronauts could carry lesser supplies to Mars, which would make their exploration of the red Planet a way more practical.