Mars Express spots active glacier on the Red Planet

December 20th, 2007 - 12:49 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 20 (ANI): Images from the European Space Agencys Mars Express Spacecraft have identified a probable active glacier for the first time on the Red Planet.

This glacier appears in the Deuteronilus Mensae region between Mars’ rugged southern highlands and the flat northern lowlands.

Though ancient glaciers, many millions of years old, have been seen before on Mars, the new glacier may only be several thousand years old.

As seen in the images, white tips can be seen on the glacial ridges, which can only be freshly exposed ice.

This is found in very few places on the Red Planet because as soon ice is exposed to the Martian environment, it sublimates - or turns from a solid state directly into gas.

“We have not yet been able to see the spectral signature of water. But we will fly over it in the coming months and take measurements, Dr Gerhard Neukum, chief scientist on the spacecraft’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) told BBC News.

Dr Neukum estimates that in Deuteronilus Mensae, water came up from underground in the last 10,000 to 100,000 years.

“That means it is an active glacier now. This is unique, and there are probably more,” he said.

The water subsequently froze over and glaciers developed, the researcher from the Free University in Berlin, Germany, explained.

The finding of glaciers on the surface of Mars is significant in the sense that they would be prime locations for robotic rovers to look for evidence of life on Mars. Thats because if microbes survive deep below Mars, they could be transported to the surface by water gushing up from deep underground. (ANI)

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