Exposed mid-latitude ice deposits found on Mars

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Scientists have discovered eight locations on Mars where underground ice appears to be exposed on cliff faces

The scarps directly expose bright glimpses into vast underground ice previously detected with spectrometers on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter, with ground-penetrating radar instruments on MRO and on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, and with observations of fresh impact craters that uncover subsurface ice. NASA sent the Phoenix lander to Mars in response to the Odyssey findings; in 2008, the Phoenix mission confirmed and analyzed the buried water ice at 68 degrees north latitude, about one-third of the way to the pole from the northernmost of the eight scarp sites.

The important thing about this discovery is that, though we have known for several years that water ice exists underground in the Martian mid-latitudes, this is the first time we have identified specific places there it is exposed and accessible.

Unfortunately, the press release does not provide the specific eight locations, except for the one image, which is located in the southern hemisphere in a region called Promethei Terra, far from areas that have been studied much more extensively. I will do some digging to see if I can identify the other seven locations.



  • ken anthony

    We now know that water is both abundant and accessible. It’s time they changed their focus to identifying locations of other industrial minerals. Finding life should not be the focus (that will happen one way or another soon after colonists arrive.) They need to focus on indigenous living resources. They should be creating designs for things they need to build out of local resources, such as airlocks for underground habitats that allow them to keep the fine dust from contaminating the inside of their habitats.

    It’s extremely important they have the right frontier attitude or they will die in greater numbers. They aren’t going to visit. They are going to live.

  • Lee S

    This is anecdotal, so should be greeted with skepticism, but for many many years I have noticed that those dark streaks visible in many mars images all ( or mostly) originate from the same strata in craters…. as a rule, not far from surface level, and usually around a layer of larger rocks and sediment.
    This news comes as absolutely no surprise to me, but I’m pleased that perhaps it will give some insight into the history of Martian water.

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