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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Ice Climbing on Mars

Ice Climbing on Mars


Ice cliffs (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)


Someday it might be possible to go ice climbing on Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been in orbit around Mars since 2006 capturing photographs. The satellite carries a special camera, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, HiRise, managed by the University of Arizona. HiRise has been photographing and mapping the Martian landscape for 13 years. The camera has seen a series of Martian cliffs that are solid water ice. According to NASA, Mars investigators now realize that, just below the surface, about one third of Mars is covered in ice. They study ice to learn about the ancient climate on Mars and as a source for future astronauts' water supplies.

At times, the buried ice has become cliffs like the one in the photograph that was just released by JPL. On the brownish, dusty cliff wall, faint blue-colored ice shows through. Over multiple HiRise observations, the cliffs have changed as boulders of ice and rock tumble downhill.

Mountain climbers are always looking for new routes but these ice cliffs are beyond their reach for now.


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