InSight and MRO capture the aftermath of a chilling Martian impact
baby ice cream
NASA hopes to add Mars to the list of worlds humans have explored in person, but it will take careful planning. A vital resource to consider? Accessible ice. Astronauts could use it for a variety of needs, such as drinking water, agriculture, and even rocket propellant.
Another obstacle to consider: heat. Like Earth, Mars’ equator is its hottest region, so NASA might want to keep astronauts as close to that location as possible.
So – because the ice surface discovered by this meteorite is the closest to the Martian equator ever found, at 35°N – the discovery marks good news for future crewed missions to Mars.
“It was a big surprise because it’s the closest to the equator that we’ve seen ice exposed on impact,” Daubar said at the news conference announcing the find. “It wasn’t totally out of range of what you would expect, but it was still very surprising.”
As for how the researchers know the ice came from Mars and not from the impactor, the answer is simple: “An impact of this size would actually destroy the meteoroid,” Daubar explained. Additionally, the debris spray indicates that the ice is not from the impacting body, but rather excavated from Mars itself.