Ice made from frozen water has been found in vast quantities just below the surface across great areas of Mars. The Ice crystals less than three feet below Mars? surface. If melted, they would created a planet-wide ocean more that 1,500 feet deep. Scientists have long felt that if there was water on Mars, then life could be there too.

Insiders suggest that as a result of this finding, NASA may commit itself to a manned Mars landing within 20 years. Recently, NASA was told that their space exploration programs should be dropped, because they cost too much money.

The discovery was made by the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which has been gathering data since late last year and confirms earlier observations. It answers a question that has puzzled Mars researchers for decades: There?s lots of evidence that Mars was water-rich in the past, so where did all the water go? The answer appears to be that it is in the layer of loose rock and dust on the surface.

The Mars Odyssey contains a gamma-ray spectrometer that looks for gamma-rays (high-energy light) with a specific signature showing that they come from hydrogen less than three feet beneath the Martian surface. Astronomers now believe that the hydrogen is locked up in the crystals of ice there.

Mars Odyssey also has a neutron spectrometer that looks for evidence for underground ice. Researchers were amazed at the strength of the signal for the ice, which is just beneath the surface.

The dramatic discovery may also guide the selection of future landing and exploration sites on Mars, and may suggest areas to look for evidence of past life. Bringing a sample of the ice and rock back to Earth has now become a top priority.

The European Beagle 2 and NASA?s twin Mars rovers plan to land on Mars next year, but neither one is targeted at the region where the ice (and perhaps life) exists. The Mars Polar Lander was scheduled to touch down in exactly the right spot in 1999 and would have detected the ice if it had not malfunctioned on the way down.

See news stories ?NASA Told Not to Look for Mars Life?, click here, ?NASA Budget Promotes Space Nukes?,click here and ?NASA Cost Cutting: End of Humans in Space??,click here.

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