Planetary scientists Aditya Cooler and Philip Christensen of Arizona State University have developed a new approach to quantify the amount of dust in Martian snow.
In the new work, the authors combined data from NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander and Mars Reconnaissance orbiter and used computer simulations to predict the brightness of snow on Mars and compare it to Earth.
Mars is a dusty planet, so most of its ice also contains this dust. Therefore, snow and ice on the planet is darker than what we see on Earth.
If there is a lot of dust, then ice or snow can melt quickly. In this case, there is a possibility that under the ice there is a layer of liquid water protected from melting, the researchers noted.
The authors, based on their data, stated that the ice dug by the Phoenix Mars lander was the result of dusty snowfall over the past million. There is a popular belief among scientists that Mars has experienced several ice ages throughout its history, so the ice in the middle latitudes may be the result of ancient dusty snowfall.
The team plans to continue analyzing the effects of ice on Mars to understand how likely the ice is to melt.