NASA has said it has found water ice deposits on Mars that is so close to the surface astronauts could dig it up with a spade.

The US space agency released a map showing where the ice is this week as they plan the best spot to land humans on the Red Planet.

Not only do researchers want to study what is in the ice, but they also believe it could be a source of drinking water for humans on Mars, as well as to create rocket fuel.

NASA’s Sylvain Piqueux said: “You wouldn’t need a backhoe to dig up this ice. You could use a shovel.

“We’re continuing to collect data on buried ice on Mars, zeroing in on the best places for astronauts to land.”

The water ice is incredibly close to the surface

The map was put together by experts after studying data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Odyssey spacecraft.

Another key discovery the spacecrafts have made is finding evidence that Mars’ Jezero Crater has hydrated silica in it.

This mineral is good for preserving evidence of life, meaning if there is or was alien life on Mars, this will show proof of it.

Researchers hope that data gathered by the Mars 2020 rover will allow them to get their best evidence for whether there is life on the planet, as well as how the minerals came to be in the crater.

Writing in the journal Geophysical Letters, experts explained that hydrated silica holds water within its crystal structure.

On Earth, it can form in a number of different environments, such as volcanic glass and the ocean floor.

And because hydrated silica is one of the hardest minerals in existence, it is exceptionally good at preserving softer minerals that get inside it.

Study author Jesse Tarnas, a planetary scientist at Brown University in the US, said: “The oldest evidence – definitive evidence – of microfossils that we have on Earth are usually found in silica.”





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