Massive Ice Deposit Discovered on Mars, Hope for Future Human Missions

A new research paper suggests that the Medusae Fossae Formation (MFF) on Mars contains a large amount of water ice.

The ice is likely in the form of pore-filling ice, and the deposits resemble the ice-rich polar layered deposits at Mars' north and south poles.

The MFF deposits could be important for future human exploration missions to Mars, as they offer a potential source of water.

The MFF deposits are located at the Martian equator, where there is more atmosphere to decelerate spacecraft during descent.

The MARSIS instrument on the Mars Express spacecraft has been used to study the MFF deposits.

Recent MARSIS data has revealed that the MFF deposits are up to 3.7 kilometers thick, and that they contain pervasive layering.

Compaction modeling of proposed geologic materials fails to explain the density and electrical properties of the MFF deposits.

These ice-rich deposits are thought to have been left at the Martian equator during periods of high obliquity, when the present-day equator was colder and the polar regions were warmer.

The National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center offers exhibits on the MFF deposits.