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Scientists Discover Large Deposit of Ice beneath a Region of Cracked and Pitted Plains on Mars: NASA

The deposit ranges in thickness from about 260 feet to about 560 feet, with a composition that is 50 to 85 per cent water ice

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New York, November 23, 2016 : Using data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have discovered a large deposit of ice beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars.

The deposit ranges in thickness from about 260 feet to about 560 feet, with a composition that is 50 to 85 per cent water ice, mixed with dust or larger rocky particles, the researchers reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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“This deposit probably formed as snowfall accumulating into an ice sheet mixed with dust during a period in Mars history when the planet’s axis was more tilted than it is today,” said lead author of the study Cassie Stuurman from the University of Texas at Austin in the US.

The scientists examined part of Mars’ Utopia Planitia region in the mid-northern latitudes with the orbiter’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument.

Analyses of data revealed a deposit more extensive in area than the US state of New Mexico.

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The newly surveyed ice deposit represents less than one percent of all known water ice on Mars, the study said.

“This deposit is probably more accessible than most water ice on Mars, because it is at a relatively low latitude and it lies in a flat, smooth area where landing a spacecraft would be easier than at some of the other areas with buried ice,” co-author Jack Holt from the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics said.

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The Utopian water is all frozen now. If there were a melted layer — which would be significant for the possibility of life on Mars — it would have been evident in the radar scans, the researchers noted. (IANS)

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  • Ruchika Kumari

    ice in mars…..interesting…..more interesting facts are to be discover

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Chandra Observatory By NASA Back in Action

Scientists are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options were available to recover the gyro to operational performance

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NASA's Chandra Observatory back in action. Pixabay

NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory, observing the universe in high-energy light since 1999, is back in action after suffering a glitch due to the failure of the gyroscope and going into safe mode last week.

The cause of Chandra’s safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to its normal pointing mode, according to the US space agency.

“The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra’s gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that, in turn, led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum. The erroneous momentum indication then triggered the safe mode,” NASA said in a statement late on Monday.

The team has completed plans to switch gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the glitch in reserve.

Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations which are expected to commence by the end of this week, NASA said.

On October 10, Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode, in which the observatory is put into a safe configuration, critical hardware is swapped to back-up units, the spacecraft points so that the solar panels get maximum sunlight, and the mirrors point away from the Sun.

Chandra is 19 years old, which is well beyond the original design lifetime of five years. In 2001, NASA extended its lifetime to 10 years.

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as October. Flickr

The US space agency said that it was also continuing to work towards resuming science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope that on October 5, entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) being used to point and steady the telescope failed.

Gyroscopes help spacecraft maintain proper orientation.

Scientists are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options were available to recover the gyro to operational performance.

Till that time, science operations with Hubble have been suspended.

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Besides Chandra and Hubble, NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope is also almost out of fuel. Kepler has found about 70 per cent of all known alien worlds to date.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as October.

The space agency’s Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity too have faced issues of late. (IANS)