Mars

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An image of Mars’s surface taken by Nasa’s Odyssey spacecraft

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NASA/Arizona State University via Getty Images

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Mars

Discovery could reveal past climates and help future explorers

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Friday, January 12, 2018 – 4:00pm

Scientists may be one step closer to finding life on Mars as a new study says that massive sheets of ice have been discovered on the red planet.  

Using images from a Nasa satellite orbiting the planet, the research discovered eight sites that appear to have “huge ice deposits”, according to The Independent. These could be easily accessed if humans were to land on them.

While scientists were already aware of the presence of ice, Science Mag says the large sheets are located much closer to the surface than was previously thought. 

It’s hoped the ice may contain information about “previous climates” and whether the planet could support life.

The ice sheets could also be of use to human explorers, the news site says, as they can be combined with carbon dioxide – a prominent gas in Mars’s atmosphere – to create oxygen. 

Planetary scientist Shane Byrne told The Independent: “Humans need water wherever they go and it’s very heavy to carry.”

“Previous ideas for extracting human-usable water from Mars were to pull it from the very dry atmosphere or to break down water-containing rocks”, he said.

There is one caveat, however. Wired says the ice sheets are located in areas of the planet where temperatures can drop “extremely low.” 

If humans were to go to Mars, the website says, they would land closer to Mars’s equator, where the temperatures are warmer but ice is significantly harder to find.

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