A surprising discovery has UH scientists seeing blue on the red planet. The first pictures from the Mars odyssey spacecraft are back. The images indicate there is an abundant amount of water underground. The finding raises the question "is there life on Mars?"
Thought the red planet only looks like a big and dry rock. Well scientists say don't be fooled by its first impression. There's actually a layer of water and ice below the surface.
UH planetology professor, Jeff Taylor is showing us a map of Mars. "The blue represent as down here a high abundance of water," describes Taylor.
Taylor is showing us what scientists have been searching for all along signs of water. "Everything south of 60-degrees latitude is water ice."
Buried just a foot or two underground, it was detected by pictures taken from the Mars oddessy spacecraft. Taylor says, "The Mars Oddessy, gamma spectrometer was able to detect water ice, very close to the surface, about a meter at all locations south of 60 degrees of latitude. So its kind of near the south pole."
And Taylor says there's lots of it. "It corresponds to over 50 percent of a volume so it's really not dirt with ice, it's really ice with a little dirt in it."
Taylor has been studying Mars and its geology for some time now. "I want to study the different compositional differences of the planet to understand the entire geologic revolution of Mars."
Why is this finding significant? Experts say it raises the possibility of discovering life on Mars. It also improves the chances of colonizing the planet someday.
"We can also use this water for future life on Mars. When astronauts go and live there. They're going to need life support. Water for oxygen and breathing and so on."
The findings will appear this week in the journal science. Scientists will continue to search for more water on Mars. The Mars Odyssey is only a few years into its ten year mission.