The findings, published May 22 in Geophysical Research Letters, are important because the layers of ice are a record of past climate on Mars in much the same way that tree rings are a record of past climate on Earth. Studying the geometry and composition of these layers could tell scientists whether climate conditions were previously favorable for life, researchers said. The team found layers of sand and ice that were as much as 90% water in some places.
“We didn’t expect to find this much water ice here,” said lead author Stefano Nerozzi, a graduate research assistant at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) who is completing his Ph.D. at the Jackson School of Geosciences. “That likely makes it the third largest water reservoir on Mars after the polar ice caps.”
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