Careful analysis of the data with the oldest, but still functioning Mars orbiting satellite space Agency NASA has led to results that scientists did not expect: the Red planet hides water ice where it shouldn't be.
Re-checking the data received from the probe Mars Odyssey, discovered an impressive stock of water ice under the surface of the Martian equator. But given our knowledge of the climate of this planet, this element is clearly there.
A Reassessment of the data was conducted by the team led by planetary scientists Jack Wilson from Johns Hopkins University. The researchers analyzed data collected by the neutron spectrometer probe "Odyssey", which showed the presence of hydrogen near the surface of Mars. One of the key objectives of the probe is the search for water on the red planet, however, due to the specific orbit, the height of which sometimes reaches 3800 kilometers above the planet's surface, the probe is not able directly to carry out the necessary measurements. However, an indicator of its existence was hydrogen. The level probe to directly measure too, can not, he is only able to detect the presence of, based on neutrons, which it can detect when the particles of cosmic rays collide with the atoms of the Martian surface.
Such is feature has allowed Odyssey to discover hidden water ice on the red planet in 2002, but at that time the data indicated that the opening was mainly due to the poles of the planet. And it turned out to be quite justified, because scientists have always believed that around the equator of Mars, the ice is not able to stay long in the soil as the temperature conditions in this region clearly show that it needs to sublimate (evaporate) into the atmosphere.
Using the method of Bayesian probability, scientists have reconstructed images of regions to obtain a more complete picture of the discovery of "Odysseus" of the above neutrons. As a result, the researchers found that the presence of the alleged and previously discovered reservoirs, including those in the latitudes of the equator of the planet.
"It's the same as if we lowered the spacecraft to nearly half of current height and saw a few new things on the surface that were invisible before this," — said Wilson portal New Scientist.
"it was previously known that the ice may be hiding under the surface at the poles of the planet. We also saw the small deposits near the equator."
This is a very important discovery, as it increases the potential suitability of the planet for the colonization, at the expense of more widespread availability of the required resources. But before actually to fly there, need to figure something out. Namely, how the ice got there.
Sam Wilson suggests that Mars once in his past could hold the axis of rotation, which was stronger tilted with respect to its current position. The research team believes that if the axis of the red planet several million years ago was rejected by 20 degrees compared to the current location, it is likely that the poles for ice to sublimate into the atmosphere, and then ultimately redistributed in these reservoirs, located in the lower latitudes.
However, scientists understand that other explanations for this phenomenon may be more likely. For example, the Martian soil has certain properties that allow water ice to be under the surface and to resist evaporation.
In General, to clarify this issue for sure and decide which of these hypotheses is most likely, you will need to conduct additional studies. However, it becomes clear that from time to time to the old studies also need to return – and suddenly missed anything interesting?
"This is a marvelous example of how when the collected data can be analyzed again using the new methods and technologies" — says planetary geologist Jim head from brown University, not involved in this study.
"We ever send humans to Mars. I would like to send it there where there is water."
The results of the latest research was published in the journal Icarus.
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