This makes these sites very valuable, for the climate science they contain locked away in their layers, and as a potential water source for when humans eventually land on Mars, and attempt to establish colonies there.
However, some of it stayed behind, transforming into ice that settled under the rocky surface. These locations were not found on Mars' polar ice caps, where "hostile conditions" would prevent astronauts from scavenging the Martian ice, but in more friendly areas, NASA said. This discovery is a game changer on mankind's exploration of the read planet.
The deposits were found at seven geological formations called scarps, with slopes up to 55 degrees, in the southern hemisphere and one in the northern hemisphere.More news: Golar LNG Partners (GMLP) Downgraded by ValuEngine to Hold
The pictures sent back to Earth by MRO showed a more detailed cross-section view of thick ice sheets below a layer of ice-cemented rock and dust on Mars' surface.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been circling the Red Planet for over 10 years now, sending back awesome pictures of the Martian surface, using its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.
The frozen water near the Martian surface was detected using images from NASA spacecraft Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter now orbiting Mars. Radio scans by MRO suggest existence of thick, buried ice along the planet's middle latitudes.More news: Liverpool to sign Keita tomorrow
"There is shallow ground ice under roughly a third of the Martian surface, which records the recent history of Mars", he said.
Researchers believe the ice formed relatively recently, because the sites appear smooth on the surface, unpocked by craters that would be formed by celestial debris smashing into the planet over time.
Scientists now want to seek out similar cliffs closer to the equator, hoping that the next surprise awaiting them is the discovery of ice nearer to the tropics.More news: Friend of U Penn student arrested in murder case
"It's like having one of those ant farms where you can see through the glass on the side to learn about what's usually hidden beneath the ground", the paper's co-author Shane Byrne said in a statement. A scarp likely grows wider and taller as it "retreats", due to sublimation of the ice directly from solid form into water vapour. The size of the deposit, however, means that it will be a very long time before it completely sublimates into the atmosphere. "You can go out with a bucket and shovel and just collect as much water as you need". It will also help NASA and other agencies plan upcoming rover and human missions to Mars.