Friday, July 29, 2005
Shock! Water found on Mars!!
Mars express tends to be forgotten, overshadowed by the failure of the Beagle Lander. But it has been steadily taking high resolution images of Mars since Christmas 2004. The latest image is of a patch of water ice near the Martian North Pole. It's very pretty, but it is not exactly new information, we know that there is some water ice near the poles (most of the spectacular Martian polar caps is frozen carbon dioxide, During summer the polar caps retreat dramatically, exposing the water ice.)
The exciting experiment is MARIS, which will search for buried water ice at lower latitudes. MARIS has been successfully deployed, and is currently searching Mars for subsurface water. Especially the smooth northern plains, may have once contained large amounts of water. However, it will take some time to accumulate enough data to interpret the signals they are receiving.