Astronaut space travel to Mars appears to be closer to NASA. An article published on Tuesday suggests that just 2.5 cm below the surface is frozen water, accessible only with a shovel, "an important consideration for any potential landing site".
In the statement available on NASA's official website, the US space agency explains that, with little space available on a spacecraft, "any human mission on Mars will have to harvest what is already available, whether to drink water and produce rocket fuel."
This is what NASA calls "in situ resource utilization", considering it an important factor in the selection of human mission landing sites. According to NASA, satellites orbiting Mars have proven essential in "helping scientists determine the best locations for Mars' first research station."
It is therefore not surprising that the authors of the article used data from two of these spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey Orbiter, to locate frozen water that could be within reach of astronauts on the red planet.
In a statement, the lead author of the study and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, warrants that astronauts would not need a backhoe to dig up the frozen water. "They could use a shovel," explains Sylvain Piqueux.
But the author guarantees that there is still more to do. The NASA team member will continue to look into the issue over the various seasons to see how resource abundance changes over time.
By 2020 NASA wants to bring a rover to Mars that is scheduled to land on Mars in February 2021. In the race to explore the red planet is also Space X and a partnership between the Japanese aerospace exploration agency (JAXA) and the agencies. Germany (DLR) and France (CNES).