Scientists spot water ice under the 'Grand Canyon' of Mars
Water ice may be lurking just a few feet below the Martian surface at one of the Red Planet's most dramatic sites.
That's according to new research based on data gathered by the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), part of the ExoMars mission operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos. ExoMars includes both TGO, which launched in 2016, and the Rosalind Franklin rover due to launch to Mars next year. Among the instruments aboard TGO is one called the Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector (FREND), which can detect hydrogen, one of the two elements that make up water. New analyses of FREND's data show high levels of hydrogen at a site called Candor Chaos, located near the heart of the massive canyon system dubbed Valles Marineris.
"We found a central part of Valles Marineris to be packed full of water — far more water than we expected," Alexey Malakhov, a senior scientist at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a co-author of the new paper, said in an ESA statement. "This is very much like Earth's permafrost regions, where water ice permanently persists under dry soil because of the constant low temperatures."
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