Researchers find extensive deposits of water ice buried under Mars’ surface

Researchers find extensive deposits of water ice buried under Mars’ surface

Using data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a team of Canadian researchers has determined that there is enough water ice hidden under the surface of Mars' Utopia Planitia to fill Lake Superior and some other reservoirs to their rims.

Cassie Stuurman, a graduate student at the Institute for Geophysics, at UT Austin, conducted much of her study while she was still an undergraduate at Western University, ON, Canada, in partnership with Prof. Gordon Osinski, the director of Western University's Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration (CPSX).

Their study suggested that there is enough water ice buried Utopia Planitia that it can fill Lake Superior to its rim, with enough ice left over to fill some other lakes like, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Stuurman and other members of her team used MRO's ground-penetrating instrument called Shallow Radar (SHARAD) and found extensive deposits of water ice, roughly 14,300 cubic kilometers, buried 10 to 108 feet below the surface.

That estimated amount of ice is enough to fill the 11,600 cubic kilometer basin of Lake Superior to the top, fill 11,600 cubic kilometer Lake Ontario to the rim as well. There would still be enough ice left over to fill Lake Erie at least twice.

Utopia Planitia is a wide cratered basin in the northern hemisphere of Mars. Scientists believe that it came into existence when a massive space rock hit the Red Planet in its distant past. This region is now noteworthy for a few things, including being the landing site of NASA's Viking 2 spacecraft in 1976.

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