Scientists Discover Clean-Water Ice Just Below Mars’ Surface

Huge amounts of water ice have been discovered hidden underneath the terrain of Mars. But a lot of things like its purity, depth and shape are yet to be known, and it has become a matter of interest and concern for scientists and geologists.

This collection of water ice needs to be studied so that it can be utilized for various purposes like facilitating agriculture, supplying drinking water, and getting hydrogen for energy purposes.

What is making the study of these reserves very difficult is the presence of soil contaminants like rocks and particles of dust/dirt. The heterogeneous soil that separates the water ice from the ground stands as the major problem for digging and excavating.

But the soil of Mars also goes through erosion like the Earth’s, and this can facilitate the research. These eroded spots need to be located as the ice becomes very much visible in these places. And, the good news is that researchers have started to find few such places. Cameras like the HiRISE attached to NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have indeed found numerous such spots.

In the recent edition of Science, comprehensive details of eight such places in Mars where the ice has been made visible by wearing away of the soil has been provided by a team of geologists. Needless to say, they found huge amounts of water there. But the interesting part is that taking out the water for human use seems simple and doable. Deposits range from the depth of a meter to almost a hundred meters above the level of the planet. They can’t tell about the exact vastness of the reserves right now, but there is quite a lot, in various locations. And, the water looks absolutely free from contaminants.

Scientists feel that these reserves would be enough for creating ample supply of water to allow humans to survive in outer space. The pure and impure ice also needs to be recognized, and plans to take them out should be thought out. Parts of the ice have already been turning into water due to natural sublimation, and debris may have begun to get mixed with the clear ice. But most of the ice is distinct.

NASA’s chief scientist of the Mars Program Office has said that he was not surprised by this breakthrough find. Mars has a lot of ice and this pretty much explains the abundance of shiny places in the planet. Also, most of this ice is water ice and not merely ice getting trapped by soil, which means it would be easy to excavate.

A problem may creep out, however, due to the eight spots being situated in regions that can go to very low temperatures. Warmer places near the equator will have the reserves much below the surface. The good thing is that scientists are still optimistic about finding more places like the eight zones. Improved drills and machinery are being designed for these purposes. Plans are being devised to make “artificial meteors” to go and hit designated parts of the planet and making the water ice accessible. Researchers are spending huge amounts of money and time in order to make the technology more developed. If work goes on at this pace, then we can surely fund a way towards living in Mars soon enough.
Source: Wired

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