Vast stores of water ice found on Mars
- URL to an article in MSNBC
The MARSIS instrument has found huge deposits of ice below Mars' south pole
- enough to flood the entire surface of the planet with water 30+ ft deep.
Reminds of a John Varley story In the Hall of The Martian Kings in which human
explorers on Mars found that as the planet grew drier, the intelligent
inhabitants withdrew underground. Also, I believe Kim Robinson used this in his
Red Mars series.
First few paragraphs
"Mars is unlikely to sport beachfront property anytime soon, but the planet
has enough water ice at its south pole to blanket the entire planet in more
than 30 feet of water if everything thawed out.
With a radar technique, astronomers have penetrated for the first time about
2.5 miles (nearly four kilometers) beneath the south pole’s frozen surface.
The data showed that nearly pure water ice lies beneath.
Discovered in the early 1970s, layered deposits of ice and dust cap the
North and South Poles of Mars. Until now, the deposits have been difficult to
study closely with existing telescopes and satellites. The current advance comes
from a probe of the deposits using an instrument aboard the _Mars Express_
“This is the first time that a ground-penetrating system has ever been used
on Mars,” said the new radar study’s lead author, Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s
Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “All the other instruments used to study the surface
of Mars in the past really have only been sensitive to what occurs at the
(NASA's _Mars Odyssey_
(http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/mars_odyssey_sr.html) spacecraft also carries instruments designed, among other
things, to probe beneath icy polar surfaces.)
Plaut and his colleagues probed the deposits with radar echo sounding,
typically used on _Earth_ (http://www.space.com/earth/) to study the interiors of
(http://www.livescience.com/php/multimedia/imagegallery/igviewer.php?imgid=626&gid=42&index=0) . The instrument, called the Mars Advanced Radar
for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding, or _MARSIS_
(http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/marsis_radar_030430.html) , beams radio waves
which penetrate the planet’s surface and bounce off features having different
electrical properties. "
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