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article imageUnprecedented amount of water found under Martian north pole

By Tim Sandle     May 24, 2019 in Science
Using advanced radar technology, astrophysicists have discovered a large reservoir of frozen water lying between sand layers under the north pole of Mars. This shows there are further mysteries to be revealed about the 'red planet'.
The application of the ground-penetrating radar technology has shown a previously unknown and very large reservoir of frozen water located between layers of sand, and lying underneath the northern polar ice cap on Mars. The reservoir is so large that, if the ice were melted and brought to surface level, it would submerge the entire surface of Mars with one complete ocean.
According to Gizmodo, the huge reservoir falls underneath Mars’ northern cavi unit and it is likely to have formed over hundreds of millions of years. The cavi unit is situated 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) underneath the Martian north pole. Until the new radar images were captured an analysed, researchers had thought that this region was composed of sand dunes and contained much less quantities of water ice, relative to sand volume.
The analysis showed deposits of very rich in ice, located within horizontal slabs alternated with sand. The occurrence and volume of ice slabs increases towards the north pole. It is speculated the ice could be the remains of former ice caps that diminished during warm periods. Longer-term the significance of the images could contribute to forming a more detailed record of past Martian climate.
The new data was collected by the Shallow Radar on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (SHARAD), which is operated by the Italian Space Agency. SHARAD was designed to map the first kilometer below the Mars surface, giving images of subsurface scattering layers with high vertical resolution. The aim is to locate water or ice deposits as well as to map the vertical structure of the upper subsurface layers. Earlier, SHARAD has detected the presence of massive glaciers in the Martian mid-latitudes (one of which is described as being three times the size of Los Angeles).
The new findings are published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, with the research paper titled "Buried ice and sand caps at the north pole of Mars: revealing a record of climate change in the cavi unit with SHARAD."
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