ExoMars, that is, a joint research mission of the European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, the purpose of which is to search for traces of biological and geological processes on the Red Planet, has just made another important discovery.

Scientists reported that it was in orbit Tropical Gas Tracking He noticed a deposit of groundwater in a place often referred to as the Martian Grand Canyon. This is hidden under the surface of the planet, but this is not a problem for the tool Friend, which are designed to determine hydrogen levels down to a meter deep – the hydrogen may indicate ice deposits, which will certainly be very important for future manned missions targeting bases near the equator.

Because although scientists think so The surface of Mars was full of oceansNow, it’s a huge desert. We know there is water on the planet because it was present in the form of ice in the polar regions (and some researchers believe that salt lakes are deep below the surface), but traces of ice and wet minerals have been discovered literally around the equator, a new discovery that could be groundbreaking.

Trace Gas Orbital (TGO) Because it is in the heart JM Marineris An area the size of the Netherlands, the layer just below the surface can be up to 40% water. Scientists believe that we are probably talking about ice, because the hydrated minerals in this region have a water content of up to a small percentage, which is much lower than the new observations indicate.

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On the attached map, purple indicates areas with particularly high water content, blue represents areas with “decent” levels, and yellow and orange represent already low water levels.

JM Marineris for The largest valley in the solar systemWhich is about 5000 km long and about 200 km wide (which means it is 10 times longer than Grand Canyon!). Its origin has not been determined to this day, but researchers are inclined to the theory that the rift formed billions of years ago when the planet cooled. The area of ​​high water content located by TGO is 41,000 km².