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Posted: 5/26/2002 4:44:54 PM EST

[b]Ice reservoirs found on Mars[/b]
Sunday, 26 May, 2002, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK

Water-ice has been found in vast quantities just below the surface across great swathes of the planet Mars.

The finding by the American space agency (Nasa) is undoubtedly one of the most important made about the Red Planet.

It solves one of its deepest mysteries, points the way for manned exploration and reignites the question of whether life may exist on the planet.

Insiders suggest that, partly as a result of this finding, Nasa may now commit itself to a manned landing within 20 years.

The US space agency will make the dramatic announcement about the water-ice next Thursday. And full disclosure of the findings will come in the journal Science later that day.

The discovery was made by the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which has been gathering data since late last year.

It confirms early observations that also pointed to enormous reservoirs of ice just below the surface.

This finding will answer a question that has puzzled Mars researchers for decades: many lines of evidence suggest that the Red Planet was water-rich in the past, so where did all that water go?

Link Posted: 5/26/2002 4:45:50 PM EST
The answer appears to be that it is in the regolith - the layer of loose rock and dust on the surface.

Mars Odyssey has been returning high-quality data about Mars' surface composition.

The spacecraft contains an instrument called a gamma-ray spectrometer that looks for gamma-rays (high-energy light) with a specific signature showing that they come from hydrogen less than one metre (three feet) beneath the Martian surface.

Astronomers believe that the hydrogen is locked up in crystals of ice.

The same design of instrument was used on the Lunar Prospector spacecraft that discovered ice in the shadowed regions of the Moon's poles in 1998.

Also on board Mars Odyssey is a neutron spectrometer that registers evidence for underground ice in the same regions of the planet.

Researchers were amazed at the strength of the signal of the ice. They had expected to take a year to gather enough evidence but managed to do so in just a few weeks.

They announced preliminary findings in March but now have good data confirming large amounts of the water-ice just beneath the surface south of 60 degrees latitude.

Researchers suspect the same to be true of the northern hemisphere, but cannot make the appropriate observations until later this year due to the Martian winter in the north.

Nasa scientists were scheduled to hold a major news conference on Thursday when they would say that their earlier findings had been confirmed and extended. But this may be brought forward after a British newspaper leaked the news.

The dramatic discovery may also guide the selection of future landing and exploration sites on Mars, and may suggest areas to look for evidence of past life.

The presence of such a vast amount of ice - if it were to melt it could cover the planet in an ocean at least 500 metres deep (1,640 feet) - will change profoundly the direction of future exploration.

The discovery may indicate areas on Mars where scientists can search for life forms

Although landing probes are planned - the European Beagle 2 and Nasa's twin Mars rovers next year - neither are targeted at the region where the ice may exist.

The Mars Polar Lander was to touch down in exactly the right spot in 1999 and would have undoubtedly detected the ice had it not malfunctioned on the way down.
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 4:46:27 PM EST
You know, Nekkid80 will get you for this :P
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 4:54:42 PM EST
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 5:06:53 PM EST
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 6:09:23 PM EST
A lot of usable water would make a manned mission much more likely...they would only have to carry enough water and fuel for the trip there: the rest could be manufactured from the regolith.
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 6:11:30 PM EST
You think Martians might be anti-gun?
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 6:17:53 PM EST
You think Martians might be anti-gun?
View Quote

Not if we get to them before the Liberal Democrats do...Anybody for a road trip to Mars?  [:D]
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 6:23:47 PM EST
You think Martians might be anti-gun?
View Quote

Yep. That is why their planet went down the tubes the way it did. It was run by idiots.

Link Posted: 5/26/2002 6:24:01 PM EST
You think Martians might be anti-gun?
View Quote

Not if we get to them before the Liberal Democrats do...Anybody for a road trip to Mars?  [:D]
View Quote

I'm in. Lock-n-load!
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 6:24:26 PM EST
They also found warts on your Anus!
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 8:41:31 PM EST
They need to fire some hops, yeast, and barley up there, and turn the whole planet into....Beer!!!!!!!!!
Link Posted: 5/26/2002 8:52:55 PM EST
Do you think anyone pissed in it yet???

Don't tell Bin Ladin.  He will have his people polute it.  Just in case we find a way to use it.

Link Posted: 5/26/2002 9:50:26 PM EST
All your Martian ice water are belong to us.
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