MYSTERY WIRE — NASA has found ice just below a thin layer of Martian sand in a large area that could someday be a destination for a Mars mission.
News reports indicate that it’s so close to the surface you could dig it up with a shovel.
The discovery opens the possibility that humans could mine the ice for a source of water. That’s crucial to extended stays on the Red Planet for two reasons:
- If there’s a water source, we won’t have to bring our own.
- Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, and we will need hydrogen to make rocket fuel.
Sylvain Piqueux, a NASA planetary scientist, tells Business Insider why the discovery is so important:
Bringing your own water from Earth would be incredibly expensive. Everything that you don’t have to bring with you leaves more room for a science experiment or additional engineering capabilities.
Discoveries in May found ice a mile below the planet surface, which could be accessed with heavy equipment.
NASA made the discovery by analyzing climate patterns using a satellite. Because water and ice have a big effect on temperature, scientists concluded that a large region’s temperature was affected by ice very near the surface.
The large region expands the best options for a landing site closer to the equator of Mars.