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Glaciers of frozen water found on Mars

Using radar measurements and ice flow modelling, researchers have been able to determine that it is water ice.

The glaciers were located in belts around Mars between the latitudes 300-500.

Scientists have discovered belts of glaciers consisting of frozen water equivalent to over 150 billion cubic metres – enough to cover the entire surface of the Red Planet with more than one metre of ice.

Using radar measurements from the NASA satellite and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and combining those with ice flow modelling, researchers have been able to determine that it is water ice.

“We have looked at radar measurements spanning ten years back in time to see how thick the ice is and how it behaves,” said Dr. Nanna Bjornholt Karlsson, from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

“A glacier is after all a big chunk of ice and it flows and gets a form that tells us something about how soft it is. We then compared this with how glaciers on Earth behave and from that we have been able to make models for the ice flow,” said Dr. Karlsson.

The glaciers were located in belts around Mars between the latitudes 300-500. They were found on both the northern and southern hemispheres.

“We have calculated that the ice in the glaciers is equivalent to over 150 billion cubic meters of ice – that much ice could cover the entire surface of Mars with 1.1 meters of ice. The ice at the mid-latitudes is therefore an important part of Mars’ water reservoir,” said Dr. Karlsson.

That the ice has not evaporated out into space could actually mean that the thick layer of dust is protecting the ice, researchers said.

The atmospheric pressure on Mars is so low that water ice simply evaporates and becomes water vapour. But the glaciers are well protected under the thick layer of dust.

The findings were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letter.

thanks.The Hindu

Dedicated by: KAVINGNAR THANIGAI.

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