If we ever start an extraterrestrial colony on Mars, we’ll need water for a host of essential services, and most obviously for something to drink.

But while there’s plenty of water ice at the planet’s poles, the elevation is too high and there’s limited access to sunlight for power. So we’ll want to look for ice we can dig out from under the surface at lower latitudes. A new study published in Nature Astronomy suggests a couple of locations that might work particularly well.

The locations come from the Mars Subsurface Water Ice Mapping (SWIM) project, which analyzes historical mission data taken over 20 years of Mars missions. The project looks at five different remote sensing datasets collected by the Mars Odyssey orbiter, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Mars Global Surveyor.

“Each of our five techniques looks at a sort of different proxy or a different way of trying to find signatures of water ice,” says Gareth Morgan, a researcher with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and the lead author of the new study. These techniques include thermal and geomorphic mapping that looks for geological surface changes caused by ice that lies less than five meters below the surface.

Morgan and his team found a few locations that would seem to work perfectly in the northern hemisphere, namely the flat Arcadia Planitia lowlands in the mid-to-upper latitudes, and the glacial networks across Deuteronilus Mensae farther east and slightly to the south. The former is an ancient region of old volcanic flows, with a suspected history of massive snowfall from tens of millions of years ago. The new results would seem to suggest those deposits slowly moved underground into very shallow depths that might be easy to drill into.

mars global map
Arcadia Planitia and Deuteronilus Mensae are both located within the northern hemisphere of Mars, in mid-range altitudes. USGS

Meanwhile, Deuteronilus Mensae is home to modern-day glaciers, and exists between cratered highlands to the south and low plains to the north. The ice here is effectively the remnants of what were probably more

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By: Neel Patel
Title: These might be the best places for future Mars colonists to look for ice
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2021/02/08/1017759/these-might-be-the-best-places-for-future-mars-colonists-to-look-for-ice/
Published Date: Mon, 08 Feb 2021 23:19:09 +0000

 

 

 

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