Glaciers under the dusty sands of Mars contain enough water to cover the planet more than three feet, a new study shows.
“We calculated that ice in glaciers is equivalent to more than 150 billion cubic meters of ice. This is enough to cover the entire surface of Mars with a layer of ice of 1, 1 meter (3, 6 feet),” said Nanna Björnholt Karlsson, a researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute for University of Copenhagen.
Earlier, radar images revealed thousands of glacial formations buried in the northern and southern hemispheres of the planet.
This data is currently included in computer models of ice movement on Mars to determine the size of glaciers and, therefore, how much water they contain.
"We looked at radar measurements over the past 10 years to see how thick the ice is and how it behaves. In the end, the glacier turned out to be a large piece of ice that moves, telling us that it is soft. Then we compared it with glaciers on Earth, to make a model of the movement of ice, "- she said. Glaciers are located in the belts around Mars between 30 ° and 50 ° north latitude.
This discovery may be an important clue to what happened to the water on Mars. A planet that is currently a cold, dry desert, when it had oceans, lakes and habitats suitable for life of microbes.
"Ice in the middle latitudes is an important part of the Mars reservoir," added Karlsson.
Scientists suspect that a thick layer of dust covering the ice may have saved it from evaporation.
The study appears this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.