Deep, buried glaciers spotted on Mars
Deep, buried glaciers spotted on Mars
Although ice has long been known to exist on Mars, a better understanding of its depth and location could be vital to future human explorers, said the report in the US journal Science.
“Astronauts could essentially just go there with a bucket and a shovel and get all the water they need,” said co-author Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson.
A total of eight ice sites, some as shallow as a few feet (one meter) below the surface, and going as deep as 100 meters or more, have been exposed by erosion.
These underground cliffs, or scarps, appear “to be nearly pure ice,” said the report.
The discovery was possible due to images and data sent by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), launched in 2005.
The probe’s first find of water on Mars was published in Science in 2010.
But now, scientists realize that ice is more widespread than previously thought, said lead author Colin Dundas, a geologist at the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona.
“There is shallow ground ice under roughly a third of the Martian surface, which records the recent history of Mars,” he said.
“What we’ve seen here are cross-sections through the ice that give us a 3-D view with more detail than ever before.”
The ice contains bands and color variations that suggest it was formed layer by layer, perhaps as snow accumulated over time, leading to ice sheets.
Researchers believe the ice formed relatively recently, because the sites appear smooth on the surface, unpocked by craters that would be formed by celestial debris smashing into the planet over time.
But just how and when they formed remains unclear.
The cliffs are located in the northern and southern hemispheres of Mars, at a latitude of 55 to 58 degrees, which on Earth would be similar to Scotland or the tip of South America.
These regions slip into a frigid darkness during the Martian winter and would not be a suitable site for a long-term human camp.
However, they are not as treacherous as the poles, and if a sample could be drilled from one of the glaciers, researchers could learn plenty about Mars’ climate and the potential for life on Earth’s neighboring planet.
“If you had a mission at one of these sites, sampling the layers going down the scarp, you could get a detailed climate history of Mars,” said MRO deputy project scientist Leslie Tamppari of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“It’s part of the whole story of what happens to water on Mars over time: Where does it go? When does ice accumulate? When does it recede?“
NASA plans to send the first human explorers to Mars by the 2030s.
King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology unveils self-guided Black Shark boat at 38th GITEX Technology Week
- These trucks are equipped with electronic pairing technologies, which effectively improve the shipping and distributing of goods, reduce human error
JEDDAH: King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has unveiled its Black Shark self-guided boat at the 38th GITEX Technology Week in Dubai. The vessel, which can carry out coastal surveillance and many other tasks, was developed in collaboration with Taqnia for Robotics and Smart Systems.
The development of the craft is part of a KACST initiative to localize and transform transport technology and logistics, to help achieve the aims of Vision of 2030.
The boat includes sensor systems that allow it to monitor and create a 3D map of a 200-meter area surrounding the boat, and automated control technology that gives it the ability to navigate independently and avoid collisions without human input. It can also be equipped with a flexible range of weapons, acting as a firearms platform that uses gyroscopic self-balancing technology. It has the ability to survey beaches at a range of 15 kilometers, in addition to accurately identifying its precise location with a margin of error of less than 20 centimeters using differential GPS, as well as specifying, monitoring and tracking targets.
The Black Shark also has long-range radar that covers up to 150 kilometers, and a telecommunication system to track its location, monitor its status and connect to multiple domains through command centers that allow wireless communication and remote control. It is fitted with a digital camera powered by electro-optic and infrared technology that can produce HD-quality video, and also has night vision capability.
As part of its initiative to develop transport technology and logistics, KACST has also worked on automated control technology, included self-driving heavy-duty trucks, with the University of California, Berkeley. These trucks are equipped with electronic pairing technologies, which effectively improve the shipping and distributing of goods, reduce human error, preserve resources, and reduce harmful emissions and fuel consumption.
The same technology can also, for example, transform a four-wheel-drive vehicle into a remote-controlled vehicle equipped with video cameras, infrared technology, a microphone and a control device wirelessly connected to a command center, where an operator can guide it using images from the video cameras.