In a recent paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists provided a map of where water may be located as little as an inch below the surface of the Red Planet.
“Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what's already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel,” explained NASA in a statement.
Scientists used data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey orbiter to find the water ice.
"You wouldn't need a backhoe to dig up this ice. You could use a shovel," said the paper's lead author, Sylvain Piqueux of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the statement. "We're continuing to collect data on buried ice on Mars, zeroing in on the best places for astronauts to land."
Researchers are revealing more of Mars’ secrets. Earlier this year, in a separate project, scientists announced the discovery layers of ice buried a mile beneath Mars’ north pole that could help unlock the Red Planet’s history.
Experts from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Arizona harnessed the Shallow Radar on the MRO to make the discovery. The ice, they say, could be the remains of ancient polar ice sheets and could be one of Mars’ largest reservoirs.
Last year, in a major announcement, NASA revealed that its Curiosity Mars rover has found organic molecules on the Red Planet. Separately in 2018, NASA released the first-ever audio recording from Mars.
While NASA wants to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin thinks that a slightly later target date of 2040 is more realistic. In an interview in 2016, the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut told Fox News that by 2040, astronauts could visit Mars’ moon Phobos, which could serve as a sort of stepping stone to the Red Planet.
In November 2018, NASA announced that it has selected the location where its Mars 2020 Rover will land on the Red Planet. The rover is expected to reach the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers