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Ice May Be Buried Beneath These Ancient Martian Hills

HRSC image of a portion of Phlegra Montes on Mars, acquired by ESA’s Mars Express on Oct. 8, 2014. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU BERLIN, CC by-SA 3.0 IGO

The southern portion of Phlegra Montes on Mars, acquired by ESA’s Mars Express on Oct. 8, 2014. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC by-SA 3.0 IGO

Scientists have been hunting for evidence of water on Mars ever since we started looking at the Red Planet through telescopes. But Mars does have water, and lots of it; solid water in the form of ice locked up in its polar caps and buried under its surface. And, if observations made by ESA’s Mars Express are indicative of similar processes seen on Earth, these ancient hills may also hold hidden deposits of underground ice.

Read the rest of my article on Discovery News here.

Titan’s Misty Mountains May Have “Roots As Nobody Sees”

A model of the layers of Titan  (Credit: A. Tavani)

Existing model of the layers of Titan (Credit: A. Tavani)

It’s been thought for some time that Saturn’s largest moon Titan has a complex internal structure consisting of multiple layers of ice and liquid water. At one point it was even suggested that there are water ice “cryovolcanoes” on Titan, where watery slush oozes to the surface and freezes solid in the moon’s 270-degree-below temperatures, in very much the same way that liquid rock does on Earth. Now, thanks to recent gravitational observations by Cassini (and who else?) some researchers think that Titan’s icy shell may be much thicker in places than once thought, making the existence of ice volcanoes and Earthlike plate tectonics much less likely.

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Floes of Frozen Methane May Be Floating on Titan’s Lakes

Artist's rendering of an ice-covered lake surface on Titan (NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS)

Artist’s rendering of an ice-covered lake surface on Titan (NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS)

Although surface temperatures on Titan are cold enough that methane can exist as a liquid, filling lakes and flowing in streams, it may sometimes get so cold that even the liquid methane and ethane freezes, forming floes and icebergs of frozen hydrocarbons. This Titanic revelation was announced today during the 221st American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, CA.

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Hidden Ice Found on Mercury!

MESSENGER's latest image of Mercury

MESSENGER image of Mercury

Who says Mercury’s too hot to be really cool? Even three times closer to the Sun than we are, lacking atmosphere and with scorching daytime temperatures of 425 ºC (800 ºF), Mercury still has places more than cold enough to hide ice. This is the most recent announcement from the MESSENGER mission team: (very nearly) confirmed ice on the first rock from the Sun!

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Dione in Color

Although made mostly of ice and rock, Saturn’s moon Dione (pronounced DEE-oh-nee) does have some color to it — although mostly chilly hues of steel blue, as seen in this color-composite made from raw images acquired by Cassini on July 23.

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Ancient Ice Found in a Frigid Lunar Crater

Laser altimeter data from NASA’s LRO spacecraft shows water ice in a lunar crater’s surface material

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has found water ice lining a deep crater located on the Moon’s south pole — as much as 22% of the surface material of the crater appears to be composed of ice, NASA and university scientists report.

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