February 22, 2005

Mars Reveals A Frozen Ocean

Scientists have announced the discovery of a huge sea of frozen ice just below the surface of Mars. This conclusion is based upon analysis of geographical features in the Elyseum region, close to the Martian equator.

The area, which covers 800 km by 900 kms, is scoured by rutted and plated features, similar to fractured ice floes here on earth. The team of scientists believe that the geological features are the result of a large cataclysmic event, in which water flooded the landscape, perhaps some five million years ago.

After the event, the sea froze solid. During the millions of years that followed, the ice was covered by a thick layer of Martian dust.

Suspicions that there may have been ice in the equatorial regions have been circulating for some time, due to the many river features that can be seen in the region.

The European Mars Express, which has been orbiting the planet for one year, will be deploying the Marsis - Mars Advance Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding. The instrument is designed to probe for subterranean permafrost. It is hoped that it will be able to confirm the sea's existence.

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