Friday, Nov 21, 2008
NASA scientists have discovered enormous underground reservoirs of frozen water on Mars, away from its polar caps, in the latest sign that life might be sustainable on the Red planet.
Ground-penetrating radar used by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals numerous huge glaciers up to one half-mile thick buried beneath layers of rock and debris. Researchers said one glacier is three time the size of Los Angeles in area.
“All together, these glaciers almost certainly represent the largest reservoir of water ice on Mars that’s not in the polar caps,” said John Holt, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of a report about the discovery, which appears in the November 21 issue of the journal Science.
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“In addition to their scientific value, they could be a source of water to support future exploration of Mars,” said Holt.
Scientists on the 12-member research team surmise that the frozen water deposits are remnants of a Martian ice age millions of years ago.
Because water is one of the primary requirements for life, scientists said the frozen reservoirs are an encouraging sign of extra-terrestrial life.
The buried glaciers reported by Holt and his 11 co-authors lie in the Hellas Basin region of Mars’ southern hemisphere, and scientist said even larger frozen water reservoirs may exist in Mars’ northern hemisphere.
This article was posted: Friday, November 21, 2008 at 5:04 am