Per JPL, Recent observations have discovered a resevoir of ice beneath the surface of mars.

How practical, from an ISRU perspective, is this discovery?

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.


3-33 feet is a really large range. Does that mean, some ice is closer to the surface then others? Or is this due to lack of scientific precision, and most likely the ice is ~18 feet underground?

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.


What is the general composition of the soil in the Utopia deposit? (Is it practical that future explorers can actually get to this water without heavy mining equipment?)

The main question is on the overall practicality of utilizing this specific ice resevoir for ISRU by future explorers. I provided specific probing questions, but other considerations that I am missing are acceptable answers.


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