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Facts about martian ice

martian ice, mars, ice on mars, manned missions to mars, colonization of mars, water on mars, human settlements on mars

Does water exist on the planet Mars? This is an intriguing question which will have considerable scientific and developmental value. The evidence seems to point in the direction of the existence of ice on Mars. Where would Martian ice be found is a manned scientific expedition would be sent to this red planet in the not too distant future? Most probably in Martian lava tube caves. The existence of these natural channels in rock may hold keys to Mars' past as well as potential resources for humanity's future.

Why are these Martian ice deposited in caves important? First of all, the ice will most certainly benefit the future explorers and settlers. Martian ice will unlock the unknown past of the planet. Martian ice will contain various components or trace elements which could provide records of past climates. A better idea of the physical history of the planet can be gained by analyzing the different layers of deposits and/or dissolved gases. Past surface conditions of the planet can be discovered by analyzing the materials washed into the cave and frozen in the Martian ice. This would give a better understanding about the differences between present and past surface conditions. Gas bubbles preserved in the Martina ice could reveal the existence of an earlier atmosphere on the planet. Martian ice will certainly have preserved long-term climate fluctuations.

Much more exciting secrets locked in the Martian ice would be the possible existence of life on an earlier, more benign Martian surface. Actual samples of past life forms might actually be found in the Martian ice. Life on Earth depended on water and if this was also the case on the red planet, Martian ice would have preserved life much more effectively than on the surface because the caves are shielded from the sterilizing surface conditions. If water is present in the form of ice, life may have adapted and still exist today.

Martian ice cannot be detected from orbit, but secondary effects related with lave tubes can be detected by orbiting probes. Many caves on Earth were discovered with this method. A probe sent to Mars would be able to detect the densities of suspended dust above surfaces of lava flows. This method would facilitate the effective ‘exhaling’ entrances of various caves with Martian ice in them. Aerolian deposits around cave entrances may also be an indicator of the existence of Martian ice.

After the discovery of a potential cave containing Martian ice, the next step is to examine it for signs of the ice. The examination of Martian ice can be done by using robotic ‘insects’ which communicate via a self-deploying, self-optimizing, and cellular network. These ‘insect robots’ will then enter the cave and install a series of communications relays. They will also establish a central ‘base’ where they can return to recharge their power systems (batteries). These robots could also be used to map a cave and locate the Martian ice.

Cave exploration to search Martian ice appears to be a significant challenge to current robotics, and may require human explorers.

Lava tube caves could be desirable sites for long term habitation on Mars. Habitats built in lava tubes would not require extensive shielding. A large, long inflatable cylinder with mirrored sides could bounce light into a cave. Gravity on Mars would be significantly lower than on Earth and finding an available deposit of Martian ice may be extremely beneficial for the habitation. These benefits of Martian ice in lava tubes will not only make habitats possible, but desirable.
Published: 2007-04-21
Author: Martin Hahn

About the author or the publisher
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting.

After living in Europe for 12 years, he moved to South-East again and has worked for the last 12 years as a management consultant, university lecturer, corporate trainer, and international school administrator

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