Space & Science

Mars Odyssey Orbiter finds Water Ice near Martian Equator

Source: The TeCake

Astronauts, cosmonauts, space research institutes and scientists are working together and extracting lots of interesting informaton about farthest planets and galaxies. Space science is seeing lots of breakthroughs and this wonderful trend will only continue in the near future. NASA which specializes in sending rockets, satellites and other spacecrafts also sends different types of orbiters for exploration purpose. Mars odyssey orbiter was built by NASA during 2001 with an expected cost of US$297 million. This world class orbiter has spectrometers and thermal imager which can detect evidence of water and ice on this wonderful red planet.

Source: NASA

NASA’S Successful experiments:

The three primary instruments odyssey orbiter uses for detecting the water and ice on the red planet are thermal emission imaging system, gamma ray spectrometer and mars radiation environment experiment. NASA successfully launched this orbiter from Cape Canaveral on April 2001 and arrived on mars on October 24. Right from the day one this wonderful orbiter is sending surface images of Mars to NASA. Orbiter is actively working till date which NASA considers as a big achievement in the field of space science. Odyssey travels in a sun-synchronous orbit and efficiently takes tons of pictures. NASA which monitors the functions of this space machine is planning to extend the mission till 2025. Incidentally, mars odyssey mapped the distribution of water in the surface which came as a surprise to the scientists. Phoenix lander confirmed the presence of water on mars.

Mars odyssey mapped the distribution of water:

Raw (top) and reprocessed MONS data (bottom) around the Medusae Fossae Formation. The reprocessed data show more ‘water-equivalent hydrogen’ (darker blue) in some parts of this equatorial region of Mars. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona.

Dr. Jack Wilson who works in John Hopkins Physics laboratory analyzed the data collected from 2002 to 2009 by Mars Odyssey Neutron Spectrometer (MONS). The team by applying image-reconstruction techniques improved the spatial resolution of the MONS data from 320 miles to 180 miles. Dr. Wilson and his team were able to get a better image of Martian equator after adjusting the resolution. Mars odyssey discovered abundant hydrogen beneath the surface of high altitude which was later confirmed as genuine data by Phoenix lander. This lander confirmed that hydrogen deposit was in the form water ice. Dr. Jack and his team focused on the equatorial areas, particularly with a 1000 km stretch, easily erodible between northern lowland and southern highlands along the Medusae Fossae Formation.

Radar images of the Martian equator showed the presence of low-density volcanic deposits or water ice below the surface. Water ice on this planet is still an unsolved mystery.

  • A leading theory suggests that this ice and dust mixture could be cycled through the atmosphere.
  • This planet also has abundant hydrogen salts and how these salts were formed is also a big mystery.
  • Wilson states that additional protection might come from a cover of dust and a hardened duricrust that traps the humidity below the surface, but this is unlikely to prevent ice loss over timescales of the axial tilt cycles.
  • Scientists and astronomers have to extract more info about the salt and hydrogen deposits that are seen on this red plant to come to proper conclusion.

Article by Rochita.

Mars Odyssey Orbiter finds Water Ice near Martian Equator
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