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Russian-Made Neutron Detector Finds Water Ice in Mars’ Subequatorial Areas

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – A Russian neutron detector on board the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) has proved the existence of water ice in the subequatorial areas of Mars, Igor Mitrofanov from Russia’s Institute for Space Research (IKI) said on Thursday.

The water ice was detected by the Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector (FREND), which is a part of the TGO instrument payload.

"The kind of water in the form of loose ice within the Mars’ regolith may contain water ice not only at the latitudes north of 60 degree, this border lies closer to the equator. Water in the form of ice may be close to the equator," Mitrofanov said at a scientific conference in Moscow.

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According to the data provided by Mitrofanov, there are two areas south of the 30 degree north latitude where water ice was found.

The Russian scientist promised to provide more data about the thickness of water ice in the Martian soil next year.

ExoMars is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia's space corporation Roscosmos. It is the first project in the history of collaboration between the European Union and Russia that aims to search for life on Mars. The project started with the launch of a Russian four-stage Proton-M/Breeze-M launch vehicle on March 14, 2016 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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