Odyssey Data reveals presence of Underground ice in equatorial region of Mars

Scientists and researchers have repeatedly hypothesized that Mars was once habitable and water was present on Mars. Though this water existed millions of years ago, when Mars was in its initial stages, scientists have found out traces of water and frozen lakes on the Red Planet. Both the Curiosity rover and the Odyssey spacecraft of NASA who are currently in the Orbit of Mars are giving latest updates and information about it.

Professor Jack Wilson, from the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) of John Hopkins University, along with his team of space researchers has discovered large deposits of permafrost ice present in the equatorial region of Mars, which is completely unexpected. The research team found these ice cubes in a region called Medusae Fossae which spread over several hundred kilometers on Martian Equator. Actually, this area was never studied for the presence of ice, because scientists believed that the area was too hot hold ice. And now as it is revealed that there is the presence of underground ice in the equatorial region, it points to a larger abundance of water than was previously estimated.

According to the study published in the journal Science Direct, scientists have spotted permafrost ice on Mars with the help of the data provided the neutron spectrometer fitted to the Odyssey spacecraft. In 2008, Phoenix lander of NASA informed that water was present in large amount near the Martian poles and also ice was found just some centimeters below the surface. But there were no traces of ice found near the equatorial region.

But NASA knew that 2008 readings were of very low resolutions. The range was just 323.1 miles, meaning the smallest area the reading could focus on was 323.1 miles wide. But the team got better resolutions by applying a mathematical formulation called Bayesian image reconstruction that helped them to narrow it down to 180.2 miles. Wilson said that it was similar to lowering the altitude of the spacecraft by 50 percent. Coming to the latest ice discovery at the equator, Wilson informed that the ice was in large part hydrogen and oxygen and that means it could fuel for the return mission from Mars, thus saving a lot of money on fuel transportation.

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