Saturday, March 17, 2007

Immense ice deposits found at south pole of Mars - Yahoo! News

Immense ice deposits found at south pole of Mars - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A spacecraft orbiting Mars has scanned huge deposits of water ice at its south pole so plentiful they would blanket the planet in 36 feet of water if they were liquid, scientists said on Thursday. ADVERTISEMENT



The scientists used a joint
NASA-Italian Space Agency radar instrument on the European Space Agency Mars Express spacecraft to gauge the thickness and volume of ice deposits at the Martian south pole covering an area larger than Texas.

The deposits, up to 2.3 miles thick, are under a polar cap of white frozen carbon dioxide and water, and appear to be composed of at least 90 percent frozen water, with dust mixed in, according to findings published in the journal Science.

Scientists have known that water exists in frozen form at the Martian poles, but this research produced the most accurate measurements of just how much there is.

They are eager to learn about the history of water on Mars because water is fundamental to the question of whether the planet has ever harbored microbial or some other life. Liquid water is a necessity for life as we know it.

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