Future Mars colonists may tap exposed ICE CLIFFS for water

NASA Mars- Ice deposit

Scientists examining the images send back by MRO have found eight different locations on Mars that reveal vast deposits of nearly pure water ice, which lie just 2 metres (6.5 feet) below the surface. In that time, it has provided us with the most detailed maps of Mars we have yet, as well as revealing the composition of the surface features, including finding deposits of clay, gypsum and other minerals.

The new Mars ice imagery were captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and subsequently studied by the scientists.

"Mars is cold and dry, with most of the H2O in the form of ice, and a little water vapour in the atmosphere", Colin Dundas, lead author of the study from the US Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center, told IBTimes UK. The sites are in both northern and southern hemispheres of Mars, at latitudes from about 55 to 58 degrees, equivalent on Earth to Scotland or the tip of South America.

According to new research published in Science water exists on Mars at depths of around 3 to 6 feet below the surface, and extends across vast sheets measuring 325 feet or more which is much shallower than what has been shown by researchers before. They used MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) to verify that these locations revealed the spectral signature of water.

One of the co-authors of the study, planetary scientist Shane Byrne, said: "Here we have what we think is nearly pure water ice buried just below the surface".

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The authors of the study have said that the latest discovery will be helpful for the establishment of a base on the Red Planet, as the water could be used for drinking, potentially create oxygen and fuel. "It's like having one of those ant farms where you can see through the glass on the side to learn about what's usually hidden beneath the ground".

"You can go out with a bucket and shovel and just collect as much water as you need. It's also much closer to places humans would probably land as opposed to the polar caps, which are very inhospitable".

"Humans need water wherever they go, and it's very heavy to carry with you".

Scientists say an analysis of the deposits would unleash a treasure trove of information to geologists about the past Martian climate.

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