A Russian neutron detector aboard the Trace Gas Orbiter orbiter (TGO) of the ExoMars mission has proven the existence of water ice in subequatorial regions of Mars.
According to Igor Mitrofanov, from the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI), water ice was detected by the FREND instrument (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector) that is part of the payload of the TGO instrument.
“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 degrees, 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.
As explained by Mitrofanov, there are two areas on the surface of Mars, south of the 30-degree latitude where water ice has been found.
The Russian scientist promised to provide more data on the thickness of water ice in Martian soil next year.
ExoMars is a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos.
Interestingly, it is also the first project in the history of collaboration between the European Union and Russia that aims to search for life on the red planet.