Los Angeles (SPX) Feb 24, 2005
An article in the New Scientist reports that a team of scientists working on the European Mars Express orbiter have found evidence of large amounts of pack ice lying within a few centimters of the Martian surface in parts of the planet's equatorial regions.
The evidence was judged to be "fairly plausible" by Dr. Michael Carr. Carr is the former head of NASA's Mars Science Working Group, the author of the books "The Surface of Mars," and "Water on Mars," and is widely considered to be the dean of Martian geology.
The Mars Express team's discovery, if confirmed, is of extraordinary importance. Up until now, the only pure water resources known to exist on Mars have been found in its polar regions.
Water is known to exist in signicant percentages the soil and in hydrates all over Mars, but processing these involves solid handling procedures of significantly greater complexity and power requirements greater than those needed to deal with ice.
The availability of pure ice easily accessible from the surface would be of enormous benefit to future Martian explorers and settlers, as combined with the known plentiful carbon dioxide resources of the Martian atmophere, would allow synthesis of hydrocarbon fuels and oxidizers, the production of food, fiber, fabrics, plastics,and innumerable other necessary items.
Water is also needed for many other essential industrial processes involving the production of metals and other chemicals.
This is a vastly more favorable resource prospect that exists on the impoverished Moon, where water is only present in parts per million quantities in deeply frozen permantly shadowed craters near the Lunar poles, and carbon is absent entirely.
In addition, frozen bodies of water in the Martian tropics may hold enormous scientific value, as they could contain preserved, or even dormant but viable, microbial Martian life forms. The detection and analyis of such life could provide the Rosetta Stone for human undertanding of the nature, prevalence, and potential diversity of life in the cosmos.
A detailed discussion of the breaking discoveries from the American and European Mars probes will be held at the 8th International Mars Society Convention, August 11-14, 2005, University of Colorado, Boulder.
New Scientist Article
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Mars Express Imagery Appears To Reveal Frozen Sea On Mars
London, UK (SPX) Feb 23, 2005
The discovery, by an international team of scientists led by University College London (UCL), the Open University (OU), and the Free University of Berlin, of a frozen sea close to the equator of Mars has brought the possibility of finding life on Mars one step closer.
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