NASA Finds Big Stash of Water on Mars

By Brett Israel | September 25, 2009 12:13 pm

mars_crater_webMars has quite a bit more water than previously thought, according to a new report in the journal Science. NASA said its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted ice at five new Martian craters, likely kicked up by meteor impacts [Reuters]. It’s no surprise that the NASA orbiter found water, it’s the size of the findtwice as much as in Greenland’s ice sheetthat surprised scientists. The ice is just under the surface, so it was only visible after the recent meteor impacts.

The ice was found half way between the north pole and the equator, which is the farthest south ice has been found on Mars. Scientists believe that water once flowed across the planet, but most thought the surface had been largely dry and parched, with planet-wide dust storms, for billions of years. They had long known that water ice and carbon dioxide ice accumulated at the poles in winter, but until now, they had no idea how far from the poles the underground ice sheet extended [Los Angeles Times].

This image shows two craters with blueish ice, which—when exposed to the Martian atmosphere—sublimates over the course of 15 weeks.

Related Content:
Bad Astronomy: Water on (shakes Magic 8 ball) Mars this time
80beats: Solar Protons + Lunar Dust = Lots of Water on the Moon
80beats: The Real Problem With a Human Trip to Mars: Radiation
80beats: Buzz Aldrin Speaks Out: Forget the Moon, Let’s Head to Mars

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space, Technology
  • Seth

    This proves that earth is 6,000 years old! 😛

  • Raven

    Wow i’m so happy we found water on mars…..

    Now what?

  • Buzz Aldrin

    Ahhh. Terraforming Mars should now be the primary goal of NASA in the next 100-200 years. That much water and CO2 ice in the poles should be enough to blanket the Martian surface and provide a more hospitable atmospheric pressure for humans – Total Recall here we come! Wohoo! 😉

  • danthemanhan

    The Universe is just awesome. Thanks science!

  • Rachel

    2.Raven Says:
    September 25th, 2009 at 7:34 pm
    Wow i’m so happy we found water on mars…..Now what?


  • http://discover Strohm Whipsell

    How ironic that as humanity continues to cause deterioration
    of the Earths biosphere with pollution, overpopulation, global warming
    etc etc. We are also on the cusp of being able to turn Mars into a
    habitable world for humans. The money spent on the Iraq war might have
    been a sufficent amount to settle a permanent colony of several hundred
    humans on MARS. Or at the very least a substantial down payment. Any planet
    that has partisan small minded leaders as we have had and have, Might want
    to hedge its bets and get moving before we lose the opportunity.The survival of
    our human species could be at stake. My comments are not meant as hyperbole
    but rather an honest observation of the human condition and the ill serving Government
    the planet has, Including I sadly admit my country the United States. Which in my view
    may be governed mostly by incompetents and crooks like an old Elmore Leonard western

  • LeeG

    Reply to Raven: I’m interested in your theory of a young earth. How do you contend that this recent discovery of massive ice sheets on mars prooves that the earth is 6,000 years young?

    Also, to Buzz Aldrin, is the original your namesake or are you the namesake? I.E. Is this Mr. Aldrin from the apollo days???

  • ted0123

    Obviously that isn’t Buzz Aldrin. And maybe if you read a damn science book you would now why this proves the Earth is roughly 6,000 year old– as if there wasn’t enough proof already.

  • goulet

    I’m curious about the connection as well. How does this prove Earth is 6000yrs old?

    also, why is it so difficult for the human mind to fathom especially long intervals of time?

  • Chris

    Yea I don’t see the connection either except for a very obscure and abstract idea that I have no firm grasp on, like say because there is ice on mars that means it mustn’t be any older than 6000 years because all of the ice would have disappeared by now if it were any older? That’s just my guess at what they’re getting at, or they are being facetious and are saying it to be snide. either way wgaf

  • Geoffrey Chaucer

    Seth was joking LeeG….

  • Dennis

    Yes, Strohm, your comments are hyperbole.

  • Seth

    Hello, all. Earth IS 6,000 years old. I’m sorry, but that’s what all the (non existent) evidence says! Guys’, I was joking.

  • stewiegriffith

    *High-fives Strohm Whipsell* Agreed. Honestly, when the layman is finally capable of sticking her/his head out of their butt long enough to question humanity and their existence we’ll be at the end of the ruddy interglacial period, for screwsake. I mean we’re honestly considering teaching Adam and Eve over Darwin at schools these days. Really? I mean really? Since when do educators support stories over hard evidence? If we cant even educate the commonpeople, how do we suppose to get ahead? If all of humanity was in the hands of a couple of people who knew wtf they were doing, we might survive but unfortunately that could only happen with something called people power pushing for this change and this is where I ask you to refer to the layman comment ahead. Humans are so stupid most of the time I wonder if we should use such a broad term as intelligent to describe our race. I mean we’re honestly still hung up on things like bias, poverty, greed, etc. So should we even be attempting to do something like checking out different worlds to ensure survival? I think evolution needs to work a little harder if it’s really got a thing for humanity’s survival.
    Just sayin’.

  • Outhouse Prophet


    Let me guess – you should be one of the “couple of people” whose hands humanity should be in.

    Don’t get me wrong, I find creationism and the 6,000YO Earth to be appalling.

    And sure lots of things in our society are a mess.

    But buddy, dictatorship ain’t the answer. They make things worse, not better.

    Or as Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the alternatives.”

  • Gwenster

    The bad news is the waters of Mars will turn you into a zombie.

    At least that’s what I saw on the previews for the next Doctor Who episode.

  • Angie

    I think it´s about time somebody discovered the red planet as a possible future living area! Take it over before somebody else does!

  • Sherman

    When do we go?

  • Joe

    Very good news! This brings us one more step towards fulfilling our cosmic duties as the reproductive organs of the earth-system. Of our biosphere, only us and microbial spores have attained the ability to travel, alive, through space. Therefore, our yearning for mars represents something far larger than our individual species. In my opinion, it represents a yearning for reproduction that is inherent in all life. The earth as a macro-organism has produced us to be seeds that it can send to set up similar biospheres on different planets. That, and also to deflect any incoming asteroids. If we deflect even one planet-busting asteroid in our tenure as a species, we as humans will have fulfilled a purpose greater than ourselves. All damage to the biosphere that has occurred as a result of our actions will not matter as much, because we have the potential of saving every living organism on this planet from destruction by deflecting space rocks. When most plants goes into reproductive stage from flowering and vegetative stage, many leaves and flowers die. It can appear that the plant is dying, but really it’s just preparing to produce fruit, sending all of it’s resources towards that one goal and purpose. As a species we are, unfortunately, reaping havoc upon most of the earth’s systems. However, if the end of this planet wide stress is a colonized mars, It will all have been worth it, despite all the loss in biodiversity, from a greater, zoomed out, whole-earth perspective. I think that the earth will be able to simply have an ice age and sleep it off, much as a temperate perennial tree goes dormant for the winter after dropping it’s seed, to fruit at the end of next summer once again.


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