Scientists discover ice under Mars' floor

An aerial view highlighting a small cross-section of an ice deposit found on Mars

Multiple sites rich in water ice found on Mars

But the size and location of the frozen water has been uncertain, and no robotic probes have yet been able to find or extract any samples from the surface of our planetary neighbor. The ice begins at around two metres below the surface and sometimes reaches more than 100 metres deep, the scientists say.

According to new research, a sizable portion of this water ice is very near the surface, only a few feet below in some places. "You don't see a high-tech solution", Byrne added.

Scientists believe they have found evidence of a sheet of ice 300 feet thick after analyzing freaky geological features known as "scraps" on the surface of Mars.

It extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to 2 meters below the surface, which could preserve a record of Mars' past climate, the researchers noted in the journal Science. Whilst water ice is known to be present in some locations on Mars, many questions remain about its layering, thickness, purity, and extent. As well as being drinkable, water can also be used to create oxygen to breathe and can be combined with methane to create fuel. However, in a game-changing development, scientists have discovered huge ice sheets on Mars and they believe that it could provide an unlimited supply of water for the humans. It is estimated that nearly one-third of the surface of Mars has ice just below its surface. A scarp likely grows wider and taller as it "retreats", due to sublimation of the ice directly from solid form into water vapour. Radio scans by MRO suggest existence of thick, buried ice along the planet's middle latitudes.

The latitudes were the equivalent on Earth of Scotland or the tip of South America. Furthermore, they think it has formed relatively recently, and is also far more extensive than what has been detected in the study.

"We expect the vertical structure of Martian ice-rich deposits to preserve a record of ice deposition and past climate", said Colin M. Dundas, from the US Geological Survey. It could be a promising new frontier for Martian exploration, and could represent a key resource for any future manned missions to the Red Planet.

The surface of the planet had been mapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in much detail and Dundas and his colleagues used its pictures to locate exposed ice in small craters, glaciers and ice sheets. "Astronauts could only go to these areas with a bucket and shovel and get all the water they need", said researcher Seiner Merne of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona.

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