Scientists believe liquid water to be sporadically located near the equator of Mars. Is the water believed to be above-ground and if so do we know how deep? Or is it just within the soil near the surface?
Liquid water is under debate, but not likely on the surface of Mars.
Seasonal dark streaks on Mars that have become one of the hottest topics in interplanetary research don't hold much water, according to new findings from a NASA Mars orbiter.
However, recent observations have yielded a large resevoir of ice just beneath the surface, between 3 to 33 feet deep.
Frozen beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars lies about as much water as what's in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes, researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined.
Scientists examined part of Mars' Utopia Planitia region, in the mid-northern latitudes, with the orbiter's ground-penetrating Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument. Analyses of data from more than 600 overhead passes with the onboard radar instrument reveal a deposit more extensive in area than the state of New Mexico. The deposit ranges in thickness from about 260 feet (80 meters) to about 560 feet (170 meters), with a composition that's 50 to 85 percent water ice, mixed with dust or larger rocky particles.
At the latitude of this deposit -- about halfway from the equator to the pole -- water ice cannot persist on the surface of Mars today. It sublimes into water vapor in the planet's thin, dry atmosphere. The Utopia deposit is shielded from the atmosphere by a soil covering estimated to be about 3 to 33 feet (1 to 10 meters) thick.