As we grew up with Star Trek and Star Wars, it is always exciting whenever we learn something new about space. This is especially true when it is about Mars, which has been viewed upon as the planet that most mimics our own. Finding water on one of our fellow planets has been a goal of space explorers.
Finding Confirmation Data in a Surprising Place
There is no question that many of us used to think of Mars as a dried up planet that appeared to have zero water sources on its barren surface. Yet after studying further, researchers have learned that the Red Planet has a considerable amount of water in the form of ice, and there could even be water that flows on its surface. We are now learning that Mars may have water reserves which are by far more accessible than once believed. A brand new analysis of historical NASA data has pointed out some ice that is located close to Mars’ equator where scientists previously thought water did not exist.
The interesting thing is that NASA did not need to send out a brand new probe to the planet of Mars to learn this fact. Oddly enough, the instrument that was used to gather all this data has been retired for some time. Researchers simply reexamined data that was collected by this NASA Odyssey Spacecraft, which was in service from 2002 to 2009. The purpose of this mission was to specifically map out Mars’ surface and also to seek any evidence of water. Also, it served to find landing sites for other surface missions, and actually still relays data for the Curiosity rover.
Data from the Odyssey has suggested that there is water in the form of ice on Mars. This conclusion is heavily based on the very familiar hydrogen signature from the surface of this planet, but scientists wanted direct confirmation. This confirmation was provided in 2008 at the time that the Phoenix lander landed close to the north polar ice cap and it detected water. At that time, scientists felt that hydrogen discovered by the probe that was located on the equatorial region was merely an indication of mineral deposits that have been hydrated. This new analysis from the Odyssey’s data indicates that there could be even more water than originally thought.
New Technology was the Key
The research team utilized image reconstruction methods that actually were not available when the data was initially collected. These techniques provided nearly 100 percent in resolution improvements. This improvement immediately indicated that there was a much higher level of hydrogen which existed around the equator, which is strong an existence of water and not the mineral deposits that they once throught.
There is still not enough data to make a definitive conclusion that there is more water around Mars’ equator, but scientists claim we are certainly leaning in that general direction. The reason that ice was preserved around the equator is not known at this time. The research team thinks that the ice could have moved from the poles and got buried at a period when Mars was undergoing a much steeper axial tilt, but more data is needed to confirm that.
The existence of water at altitudes like that will probably provide much help for future Mars missions that may be manned. Everyone knows that water is a must for human survival. However, water on Mars could also be need for making the fuel required in order to return to Earth.
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