Not Exactly Canals

Within our lifetime, Mars has gone from a wet world with canals to a dry, cold, inhospitable desert. I wish they’d make up their minds already. The latest is somewhat in the middle: still cold and inhospitable, but with more water than previously suspected.

Just below the surface, Mars is full of ice. New observations have revealed steep cliffs cut out of thick sheets of ice, which may be able to tell us about the planet’s climate over the past millions of years.

We know from previous radar studies that ice abounds just under Mars’s dusty surface, but where exactly it is in the Martian crust or how deep it goes is still unclear.

Colin Dundas at the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona and his colleagues examined pictures from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and found eight ice patches in steep cliffs, which formed as ice accumulated over millions of years just under the Martian surface. Erosion revealed these icy blue spots, and they’re still visible today.

Okay then. A lot of folks (including me) thought that there was going to be a need for ice asteroid harvesting to keep any Martian settlements alive. That might still be the case, but it won’t be as pressing a need as first thought.

Always keep The Goal in mind: bacon-wrapped tater tots. On Mars.

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