The presence of water on Mars boosts hopes of discovering evidence of microbial life, past or present. Access to water on Mars will also greatly aid future colonisation attempts made by the first people to land on the Red Planet. A NASA image shared on Sunday, September 15, by the University of Arizona shows a potential “channel” of ice in the Northern Arcadia Planitia region. The picture was snapped by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft.
In the NASA photo, a dark streak runs across the image from the left to the right.
The streak is likely a thin channel of ice running in a northwest to southeast direction.
Further down south from the channel are likely more deposits of frozen water hiding under the surface.
The photo was snapped on April 28, 2018, when the MRO passed over the Red Planet at an altitude of 189miles (304km).
The University of Arizona said: “This shows a possible thin channel of ice extending northwest to southeast – left to right – connecting a larger channel of possible thick masses of buried ice further south.
But about four billion years ago, the planet appears to have lost its magnetic field and with it, the planet’s wet atmosphere was mostly stripped away by solar radiation.
Today, all water on Mars exists in small amounts as ice near the north and south poles, and as water vapour in the air.
NASA said: “All these signs of water are very exciting. Why? Because on Earth, almost everywhere there is water, there is life.
“Whether the water is boiling hot or frozen, some sort of creature seems to thrive in it.
“Is it the same on other planets? If water once flowed on Mars, did life once thrive there too?
“Or, maybe there is still water on Mars, only it has gone underground. Could there be tiny life forms – like bacteria – on Mars even now?”
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched into space on August 12, 2005, and reached the planet by March 10, 2006.
The spacecraft’s HiRISE instrument, or High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, is operated by the University of Arizona.