New 3-D map of Mars' ice caps reveal hidden structures

Astronomers have discovered structures which had long been hidden within Mars' polar ice caps.

As a news release by the Planetary Science Institute states, they include "previously obscured layering, a larger volume of frozen carbon dioxide contained in the south polar cap, and bowl-shaped features that may be buried impact craters within both polar caps."

While the Red planet's polar caps have been studied in the past, the areas underneath remained a mystery due to a barrier of frozen carbon dioxide.

However, a team has been able to develop a 3-D map of both poles by using extensive data collected by a special instrument known as "SHARAD" aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

A graphic posted online shows a cut-away image of the planet's northern polar cap with color variations based on different radar responses; within the area are a number of places scientists have identified as possible locations of buried craters.

The team hopes this information will help in building a better understanding of climate change and ice cap ages on Mars.

According to Space News Magazine, NASA is considering sending another rover to the planet around the year 2022 for further exploration.

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