Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids, but it’s apparently a lot more hospitable to exploration than previously thought.
Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Tuesday the discovery of a deposit of ice just a few feet below the surface of the planet that holds as much water as Lake Superior.
It was found through observations by the space agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
“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,” said Jack Holt of the University of Texas, who has studied Martian ice under the polar caps.
The source of fresh water could help sustain explorers, but it also may hold clues to Mars’ ancient climate, and provide potential evidence of past life.
“We don’t understand fully why ice has built up in some areas of the Martian surface and not in others,” said Joe Levy of the University of Texas, who co-authored the study that discovered the huge ice deposit. “Sampling and using this ice with a future mission could help keep astronauts alive, while also helping them unlock the secrets of Martian ice ages.”
The deposit is only 3 feet below the surface in some areas, and is up to 260 feet thick.
BREEZY THANKSGIVING DAY: Winds are forecast to gust up to 20 mph on Florida’s East Coast, according to the National Weather Service. The high should be in the low 80s with lows in the low 70s under partly sunny skies.
A cold front is expected to plow through the peninsula on Friday night, with highs Saturday and Sunday in South Florida in the mid- to upper-70s. Lows will be in the 60s as winds once again swing around to the northeast.
(Image credit: NHC)
OTTO EYES PACIFIC: The storm in the Caribbean lost a little strength Wednesday morning and was downgraded to a tropical storm with 70 mph winds. But it was forecast to muscle back up to hurricane strength before slamming into Central America on Thursday.
Otto is now forecast to survive the trip across land and move into the Northeastern Pacific as a tropical storm. It will likely head west-northwest and become an extra-tropical depression by the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Hurricane warnings were posted for parts of the coasts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and parts of Panama were under a tropical storm warning.