Buried underneath its dusty surface, Mars has thousands of glaciers, enough frozen water to blanket the red planet with a 3.6 foot-thick or 1.1 meter-thick layer of ice. These glaciers are located in two bands at the mid-southern and mid-northern latitudes, scientists say.
According to radar readings from Mars orbiters, which combined with computer simulations of ice flows, has determined that the planet has about 5.3 trillion cubic feet or 150 billion cubic meters of water locked in the ice form. As revealed by this week’s issue of Geophysical Research Letters. The volume of the frozen water is more or less equals to the volume of water contained in Lake Tahoe, along the Nevada and California border.
Mars Express orbiter’s High Resolution Stereo Camera captured an image which shows that a thick layer of dust is covering the Martian glaciers. Only the dust is visible at the surface, but measurements in the radar reveal that underneath the dust are glaciers composed of frozen water.
Scientists are baffled as to how Mars transformed from a probably warm, wet and Earth-like planet, presumably, early in its history into the dry, hostile and cold world that it is today. Much of its atmosphere was stripped away billions of years ago, because of the planets lacks a protective magnetic field.
The University of Copenhagen’s Neils Bohr Institute said in a news release, , “the atmospheric pressure on Mars is so low that water ice simply evaporates and becomes water vapor.”
The researchers suspect due the thick layer of dust, the Martian glaciers remained intact.
This is one sure way of determining if the planet can really support life. Tapping the water will help a long way of doing it.