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Mars rover flyovers
Images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have been assembled to create these flyover animations of the Columbia Hills where the Spirit rover is exploring and the Opportunity rover at Victoria Crater.

 Spirit | Opportunity

Seas on Titan
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found evidence for seas, likely filled with liquid methane or ethane, in the high northern latitudes of Saturn's moon Titan. This movie includes animation of the craft's encounters with Titan and an interview with insight into the science.

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Atlas 5 launches STP 1
The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket with the U.S. military's Space Test Program 1 payload launches Cape Canaveral.

 Full Coverage

Atlantis rolls back
Battered by an intense hail storm six days earlier, space shuttle Atlantis retreated off launch pad 39A and returned to the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building on March 4 to undergo thorough inspections and repairs.

 Video | Time-lapse

STS-112: ISS expansion
Atlantis made a week-long visit to the International Space Station in October 2002 that began the outward expansion of the outpost's truss backbone. Attachment of the 14.5-ton Starboard 1 segment was primary objective of the STS-112 mission. The astronauts tell the story of the flight in this post-flight movie.

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NASA budget hearing
This U.S. Senate space subcommittee hearing to examine NASA's proposed Fiscal Year 2008 budget features testimony from NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on February 28.

 Part 1 | Part 2

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Mars' south pole ice found to be deep and wide
NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE
Posted: March 15, 2007

New measurements of Mars' south polar region indicate extensive frozen water. The polar region contains enough frozen water to cover the whole planet in a liquid layer approximately 11 meters (36 feet) deep. A joint NASA-Italian Space Agency instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft provided these data.


This map shows the thickness of the south polar layered deposits of Mars. The thickness of the layered deposits is shown by colors, with purple representing the thinnest areas, and red the thickest. Credit: NASA/JPL/ASI/ESA/Univ. of Rome/MOLA Science Team/USGS
 
This new estimate comes from mapping the thickness of the ice. The Mars Express orbiter's radar instrument has made more than 300 virtual slices through layered deposits covering the pole to map the ice. The radar sees through icy layers to the lower boundary, which is as deep as 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) below the surface.

"The south polar layered deposits of Mars cover an area bigger than Texas. The amount of water they contain has been estimated before, but never with the level of confidence this radar makes possible," said Jeffrey Plaut of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena Calif. Plaut is co-principal investigator for the radar and lead author of a new report on these findings published in the March 15 online edition of the journal Science.

The instrument, named the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS), also is mapping the thickness of similar layered deposits at the north pole of Mars.

"Our radar is doing its job extremely well," said Giovanni Picardi, a professor at the University of Rome "La Sapienza," and principal investigator for the instrument.

"MARSIS is showing itself to be a very powerful tool to probe underneath the Martian surface, and it's showing how our team's goals, such as probing the polar layered deposits, are being successfully achieved," Picardi said. "Not only is MARSIS providing us with the first-ever views of Mars subsurface at those depths, but the details we are seeing are truly amazing. We expect even greater results when we have concluded an ongoing, sophisticated fine-tuning of our data processing methods. These should enable us to understand even better the surface and subsurface composition."

Polar layered deposits hold most of the known water on modern Mars, though other areas of the planet appear to have been very wet at times in the past. Understanding the history and fate of water on Mars is a key to studying whether Mars has ever supported life, since all known life depends on liquid water.

The polar layered deposits extend beyond and beneath a polar cap of bright-white frozen carbon dioxide and water at Mars' south pole. Dust darkens many of the layers. However, the strength of the echo that the radar receives from the rocky surface underneath the layered deposits suggests the composition of the layered deposits is at least 90 percent frozen water. One area with an especially bright reflection from the base of the deposits puzzles researchers. It resembles what a thin layer of liquid water might look like to the radar instrument, but the conditions are so cold that the presence of melted water is deemed highly unlikely.

Detecting the shape of the ground surface beneath the ice deposits provides information about even deeper structures of Mars. "We didn't really know where the bottom of the deposit was," Plaut said. "Now we can see that the crust has not been depressed by the weight of the ice as it would be on the Earth. The crust and upper mantle of Mars are stiffer than the Earth's, probably because the interior of Mars is so much colder."

The MARSIS instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter was developed jointly by the Italian Space Agency and NASA, under the scientific supervision of the University of Rome "La Sapienza," in partnership with JPL and the University of Iowa, Iowa City. JPL manages NASA's roles in Mars Express for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

John Glenn Mission Patch

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The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.
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Final Shuttle Mission Patch

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The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!
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Celebrate the shuttle program

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This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!
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Anniversary Shuttle Patch

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This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
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Mercury anniversary

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Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
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Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
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