The pictures of Martian mountain range Phlegra Montes look characteristically dry and dusty. But not so fast, say researchers at ESA. Just 60 feet below the surface, they think there's something buried: Ice.
So what makes scientists so sure? Basically, the latest data coming in from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter included a much more detailed topography of the mountain range than scientists had seen before. But when they began to take a closer look they found that what they were seeing, though new, looked awfully familiar. In fact, they noted, it looked just like the aftereffects of a close encounter with a glacier on Earth's terrain:
Features visible in the Phlegra Montes mountain range providing strong evidence for glacial activity include aprons of rocky debris surrounding many of the hills. Similar features are seen in glacial regions on Earth, where material has gradually slumped downhill through the presence of subsurface ice.
For a better sense of the terrain they're talking about, they also made this image of the mountain range for viewing in 3D. Glasses on!
Images: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin.