Thursday, January 18, 2018

NASA Spacecraft Reveal New Details of 3D Structure of Martian Ice Sheets

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona / USGS.
Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona / USGS.
 New images taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have been released by NASA, detailing the ice sheets on Mars. These photographs have revealed never-before-seen details including some ice sheets that begin just a few metres below Mars' surface and extend to depths greater than 100m (300 feet).
 “There is ice under roughly a third of the Martian surface, which records the recent geologic history of Mars,” said lead author Dr. Colin Dundas, a research geologist with the Astrogeology Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey. “What we’ve seen here are cross-sections through the ice that give us a 3D view with more detail than ever before.”
 To gain this data, the team examined north and south pole-facing erosional slopes, known as scarps, in eight locations around Mars. Similar to ice cores extracted from Earth, these Martian ice scarps preserve a record of ice deposition and past climates on Mars.
 Details of the scarps have revealed that ice layers with different proportions of ice and dust could have formed under varying climate conditions. “This means that relatively pure water ice, capped by only a thin layer of ice-cemented rock and dust, may be readily accessible to future exploration missions.”

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