Tech & Science

Mars: Scientists find evidence of glacier near planet’s equator

Humanity may one day be obsessed with sending people across the solar system to live on Mars, but the discovery of a “remnant glacier” on Mars is a dream one step closer to reality. It could mean

Scientists said of a “groundbreaking announcement” made at the 54th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Woodlands, Texas. It could mean that ‘surface water ice’ is still present on Mars today.

The ‘remnant glacier’ is not made of ice, but is one of several ‘light-colored deposits’ (LTD) found in the area. Scientists say LTD are usually composed of brightly colored sulfates, which appear to have very similar characteristics to glaciers.

Researchers say the remaining glacier was found near the Martian equator (more precisely, Eastern Noctis Labyrinthus at coordinates 7° 33′ S, 93° 14′ W for space enthusiasts). ). It has important implications for future human exploration. “

The discovery suggests that Mars may have had a more “watery” history than scientists previously thought, changing our understanding of how Mars can sustain human life. There is a possibility.

“We knew of martian glacial activity in many places in the distant past, including near the equator. We also knew of recent glacial activity on Mars, but so far only at high latitudes. A relatively young relic glacier This location tells us that Mars experienced recent surface ice even near the equator, which is new.

“The desire to land humans where water ice might be extracted from the ground is prompting mission planners to consider high-latitude locations. Equatorial locations, where ice can be found at shallow depths, offer the best of both worlds: warm conditions and access to ice for human exploration. You can,” Lee said.

However, Lee said more research is needed to understand how much ice is preserved under LTD.

“What we think happened here is that salt formed on top of the glacier while maintaining the shape of the ice below, including details such as crevasses and moraines.

“At present, water ice is not stable on the Martian surface near the equator, so it is not surprising that no water ice has been detected on the surface. All glacial water ice, however, is It’s also possible that some are still protected at shallower depths beneath the sulfate,” Lee said.

Sourabh Shubham, a graduate student in the Department of Geology at the University of Maryland and co-author of the study, said volcanic eruptions in the area likely preserved the glacial trail.

“This region of Mars has a history of volcanic activity, and where some of the volcanic material came into contact with glacial ice, a chemical reaction occurred at the boundary between the two, forming a hardened layer of sulfate. I guess,” Shubham explained. “This is the most likely explanation for the hydrated and hydroxylated sulphates observed in this light-toned sediment.”

Scientists add that the volcanic material in the area has eroded over time, making glacial tracks visible in salt deposits.

“Glaciers often exhibit unique types of features, including boundaries, stretches and tic-tac-toe crevasse fields, and also protruding moraine bands and fronds. We see similar features in location and scale, which is very interesting,” said Jon Schutt, a geologist at the Mars Institute and a former Arctic and Antarctic ice guide and co-author of the study. rice field.

The study suggests that the relic glaciers must be relatively young, geologically speaking, possibly dating to the Amazonian age (the most recent geological epoch that includes present-day Mars).

The authors of the study believe that what happened on Mars may be similar to what happened on Salar in the Altiplano of South America. stored under .

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