Scientists Discover Remains of a Glacier Near the Martian Equator
Astronomers have discovered the remains of a glacier near the Martian equator, indicating that a form of water still exists somewhere on the Red Planet.
Scientists said that the discovered ice block no longer exists, but they spotted the remains of mineral deposits near the equatorial region of Mars, containing light-coloured sulphate salts. When they examined it, they recognised the features of a glacier.
The research team also discovered deep, wedge-shaped openings, the type which is formed inside glaciers. These results were shared last Wednesday at the 54th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Woodlands, Texas, USA.
“What we found is not ice, but rather a salt deposit with the detailed morphological features of a glacier,” study senior author Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute and the Mars Institute, said in a statement. He added, “We believe the salt had been formed on top of the glacier while preserving the shape of the ice below.”
Researchers believe that the glacier is 6 kilometres long and about 4 kilometres wide.
Researchers are now doing their best to determine if there is any ice left from the glacier, and if so, how much of it at shallow depths beneath the salt deposits. If the salt deposits protected the ice, other pockets of ice are likely nearby, they said.