Scientists appear to have found a potential human landing site on Mars, a region of a glacier covered in debris.
This strange meandering feature on a flat plain known as the Arcadia Planitia bears a striking resemblance to the flow of ice within the ice sheet in Antarctica.
If the glacier does exist, it could become the target of future crew missions.
This area is already of interest to SpaceX and NASA because it is an outer flat plain, an ideal space for space landings.
If there is ice stored not too deep beneath the surface of the location, astronauts can also use it to find water sources easily.
“Features such as the newly discovered flow are strange because they occur in flat terrain,” said Shannon Hibbard, study leader from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, quoted from Live Science, Tuesday (4/5/2021).
Arcadia Planitia is in the northern lowlands of Mars. In the last three billion years, active lava flows have propagated in this region, so that there are far fewer craters than in other parts of the Red Planet.
Data gathered from orbit over the years suggests that the soil in the region is rich in hydrogen.
Since water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen molecules, this hydrogen indicates the presence of water ice just below the surface.
Experts also saw features that were shaped like glacial flows covered in thin rock layers at the Arcadia Planitia.
According to Hibbard, this winding feature is a big mystery because it looks like it was created by a flow of ice, but the terrain is not steep enough to explain why the ice is moving winding.
Early analysis suggests that these features are of glacial origin. The sinuous shape appears similar to other features associated with slow-flowing matter seen on Mars.
In the study, published in the May issue of the journal Icarus, experts will investigate the terrain that surrounds this tortuous feature for further clues.
The Arcadia Planitia has never been studied except from orbit, but it might be an interesting location to send out future Mars missions.