Planetologists have discovered a glacier on Mars near the equator

(ORDO NEWS) — A relict glacier has been discovered on Mars near the equator. This was reported by planetary scientists of the SETI Institute at the 54th scientific conference on the study of moons and planets in the Texas city of Woodlands.

The discussion about the presence of liquid water on Mars is considered one of the most important in modern planetary science. Basically, negative temperatures reign on Mars, and even carbon dioxide freezes at the poles.

But in the equatorial region, where the temperature can periodically reach positive values, water cannot accumulate in the form of puddles, because due to low pressure it immediately boils (sublimes) and evaporates.

However, some scientists hope that a bizarre combination of conditions may lead to the formation of at least temporary reservoirs near the equator or perennial glaciers.

Now Pascal Lee and his colleagues have reported the discovery of a relict glacier near the equator of Mars.

It is located in the eastern part of the Labyrinth of the Night, coordinates 7°33’S, 93°14’W. The formation reaches a size of up to 6 km in length and up to 4 km in width, rises by 1.3-1.7 km.

Usually such light deposits are composed of sulfate salts, but this geographic feature has many of the features of a glacier, including fissure fields and moraine bands.

“What we found is not ice, but salt deposits with the morphological characteristics of a glacier. We think that the salt formed on top of the ice, while retaining its shape under it, ”explains Li.

This region of Mars has exhibited volcanic activity in the past, and where some of the volcanic materials have come into contact with ice, chemical reactions have occurred at the boundary between them, resulting in the formation of a hardened layer of sulfate salts.

Over time, as erosion removed the overlying volcanic materials, a hard layer of sulfates was exposed, following the shape of a glacier.

In the future, scientists plan to find out whether the water ice is preserved under light deposits or has completely disappeared.

If the discovery of ice is confirmed, then it can be used as a source of water for future space expeditions.

It will also allow the base to be set up in a relatively warm place where people and equipment will not freeze, and the rocket will need less fuel for takeoff and landing.


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