Astronomers believe they have found huge deposits of ice beneath the equator of Mars.
according to IFL ScienceNearly two decades ago, researchers discovered some strange deposits deep beneath the Earth's surface Medusae Fossil Formation (MF).
Latest data, published In the Geophysical Research LettersIt indicates that these deposits are extremely rich in ice.
The MFF consists of numerous wind-sculpted elements and has an area of approx 1/5 of the continental United States. It is believed to be the largest source of dust on Mars and extends to Gale Crater, which… NASA Curiosity Explores.
Data from the European Space Agency's Mars Express suggests so There is a lot of ice If it melts, Mars will be covered with a layer of water Depth 1.5 to 2.7 metres — This is the amount of water in the entire Red Sea on Earth.
“We have re-explored the MFF using newer data from Mars Express's MARSIS radar and found that the sediment is much thicker than we thought: up to 3.7 km “Thick,” he said. Thomas Wattersfrom Smithsonian InstitutionUSA, lead author of the new investigation and preliminary 2007 study.
“It is exciting that the radar signals match what we expect to see from ice sheets and are similar to the signals we see in the polar ice caps of Mars, which we know are Very rich in ice“.
From the first observations, researchers considered the possibility that the sediments were ice-rich. He was Relatively transparent To the radar and Low densityby It won't be rock solidBut they couldn't rule out the possibility that it was giant deposits of dust, volcanic ash or sediment.
“This is where the new radar data comes in. Given its depth, if the MFF were just a giant pile of dust, we would expect it to compress under its own weight. andrea Cicchetti, from the National Institute of Astrophysics in Italy, and co-author of the study.
“This would create something much denser than what we already see with MARSIS. And when we modeled the behavior of different materials without ice, there was nothing that replicated the properties of MFF. We needed ice.”
Current opinion holds that the MFF consists of extensive layers of ice and dust, covered by a final protective layer of dust or ash several hundred meters thick. This is what you have Keep the ice protected. Although scientists do not know for sure for how long.
“This is the final analysis It challenges our understanding “It is from the composition of Medusae Fossae and raises as many questions as it answers,” he said. Colin Wilsonproject scientist at the European Space Agency.
“If ice is confirmed, these are huge deposits It would change our understanding of the climate history of Mars. He points out that any ancient water reservoir would be a great target for human or robotic exploration.
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