‘Glaciers’ on Mars could point to perfect landing site for humans

A beautiful flat spot on Mars has some newly discovered sinuous glacial formations.

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Arcadia Planitia may host previously unknown glaciers that resemble “ice streams” on Earth. This photo comes from NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft.

Water is life, whether you are a human on Earth or the first person to set foot on Mars. If Mars is going to be inhabited, human explorers will need to get their water supply from Mars itself. A new study of a potential “glacier” on the Red Planet points to a region it says could be “perfect for future Mars landings.”

Scientists have been researching subsurface ice on Mars for years and have already The idea of ​​matching ice formations and potential landing sites For future human visitors.

In 2019, NASA releases “treasure map” of water ice depositsSome of which can be reached with a shovel. Arcadia Planitia was on NASA’s list of hot spots for ice. The new study, led by planetary geologists at Western University in Canada, helps dial in the potential site for a spacecraft landing in the region.

The paper, published in May in the journal Icarus, details some of the fascinating “sinuous, flowing, glacier-like features that lie beneath the surface of Mars” in Arcadia Planitia.

Water – which is heavy and difficult to ship through space in large quantities – would be essential for drinking and other human activities on Mars, and it is also a vital ingredient for rocket fuel off Earth.

Lead author Shannon Hibbard, a Ph.D. Western University candidates are hoping that Earth may help explain unusual features. “We haven’t seen anything like this on Mars, so we see Earth where ice streams within ice sheets can exist without explicit control from surface topography. On Earth, these are known as ice streams. goes,” Hibbard said in a western university statement last month.

The research team isn’t ready to declare that the formations are definitely ice streams, but Hibbard said, “It’s possible that subglacial water was present at some point in this location on Mars, but it’s not clear why.” How much and for how long.”

The study site covered by the paper is flat, which would make it a good candidate for a spacecraft landing. Combined with the possibility of near-surface snow, this could be the perfect place to send human visitors. If there was running water, it could also be a beautiful place to look for signs of microbial life.

Detecting water ice on Mars is one thing; Making it usable is another matter. Hibbard is confident researchers will figure out how to do it: “Wherever NASA and SpaceX decide to land, we know they’ll be able to find a way to reach the ice.”

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