Los Alamos makes first map of ice on Mars EurekAlert!

Lurking just beneath the surface of Mars is enough water to cover the entire planet ankle-deep, says Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Bill Feldman. Feldman on Saturday released the first global map of hydrogen distribution identified by instruments aboard NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft and offered initial minimum estimates of the total amount of water stored near the Martian surface. His presentation came at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Denver. For nearly a year, Los Alamos’ neutron spectrometer has been carefully mapping the hydrogen content of the planet’s surface by measuring changes in neutrons given off by soil, an indicator of hydrogen likely in the form of water-ice, within about 35 degrees latitude of the north and south poles. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that Mars has enough water to support future human exploration,” Feldman said. “In fact, there’s enough to cover the entire planet to a depth of at least five inches, and we’ve only analyzed the top few feet of soil.”