NASA spacecraft detects buried glaciers on MarsNovember 21st, 2008 - 12:38 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Nov 21 (ANI): NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected vast Martian glaciers of water ice buried under protective blankets of rocky debris at much lower latitudes than any ice previously identified on the Red Planet.
Scientists analyzed data from the spacecrafts ground-penetrating radar and suggested that buried glaciers extend for dozens of miles from the edges of mountains or cliffs.
A layer of rocky debris blanketing the ice may have preserved the underground glaciers as remnants from an ice sheet that covered middle latitudes during a past ice age.
This discovery is similar to massive ice glaciers that have been detected under rocky coverings in Antarctica.
Altogether, these glaciers almost certainly represent the largest reservoir of water ice on Mars that is not in the polar caps, said John W. Holt of the University of Texas at Austin, who is lead author of the report.
Just one of the features we examined is three times larger than the city of Los Angeles and up to half a mile thick. And there are many more. In addition to their scientific value, they could be a source of water to support future exploration of Mars, he added.
The detection of these glaciers may also provide an answer to a Martian puzzle.
Scientists have been puzzled by what are known as aprons, which are gently sloping areas containing rocky deposits at the bases of taller geographical features, since NASAs Viking orbiters first observed them on the Martian surface in the1970s.
One theory has been that the aprons are flows of rocky debris lubricated by a small amount ice.
Now, the shallow radar instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided scientists an answer to this Martian puzzle.
These results are the smoking gun pointing to the presence of large amounts of water ice at these latitudes, said Ali Safaeinili, a shallow radar instruments team member with NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Radar echoes received by the spacecraft indicated radio waves pass through the aprons and reflect off a deeper surface below without significant loss in strength.
That is expected if the apron areas are composed of thick ice under a relatively thin covering.
The apparent velocity of radio waves passing through the apron is consistent with a composition of water ice.
According to Roberto Seu, leader of the instrument science team at the University of Rome La Sapienza in Italy, It is now a priority to observe other examples of these aprons to determine whether they are also ice. (ANI)
- Vast, concealed glaciers discovered on Mars - Nov 21, 2008
- NASA spacecraft detects significant changes in Mars' atmosphere - Apr 22, 2011
- Sand dunes in Northern Mars actively changing - Feb 04, 2011
- NASA's Mars Orbiter completes 5-yr mark - Mar 10, 2011
- After 40 years, Nasa spacecraft solves Martian ice caps mystery - May 27, 2010
- NASA's Odyssey spacecraft becomes Mars' longest-staying guest - Dec 16, 2010
- NASA's Odyssey spacecraft sets exploration record on Mars - Dec 16, 2010
- US rover to scout for Mars' habitability - Nov 27, 2011
- Radar map of buried Mars layers matches planet's climate cycles - Sep 23, 2009
- Frozen piles of CO2 on Mars may trigger avalanches - Oct 30, 2010
- 'Crater wall on lunar surface holds ice' - Aug 30, 2012
- Scientists find signs of flowing water on Mars - Aug 05, 2011
- Glaciers melting 100 times faster - Apr 04, 2011
- 99 percent pure water ice found on Mars - Sep 25, 2009
- NASA's Mars Opportunity rover getting travel tips from orbiting spacecraft - Dec 17, 2010
Tags: california radar, geographical features, glaciers, ground penetrating radar, ice on mars, jet propulsion laboratory, mars reconnaissance orbiter, martian surface, massive ice, middle latitudes, nasa spacecraft, nasas, polar caps, radar instrument, radar instruments, rocky debris, smoking gun, source of water, university of texas at austin, water ice on mars