This might be the words of Elon Musk channeling Brigham Young as he contemplates the latest news about abundant water in Valles Marineris, an equatorial valley system on Mars that extends for some 4,000 kilometers.
“(CNN) Mars has its own version of the Grand Canyon, and scientists have learned this dramatic feature is home to “significant amounts of water” after a discovery made by an orbiter circling the red planet, according to the European Space Agency. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched in 2016 as a joint mission between the European Space Agency and Roscosmos, detected the water in Valles Marineris on Mars. This canyon system is 10 times longer, five times deeper and 20 times wider than the Grand Canyon.“
“The water is located beneath the surface of the canyon system and was detected by the orbiter’s FREND instrument, or Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector. This instrument is able to map hydrogen in the top meter (3.28 feet) of Martian soil. Most water on Mars is located in the planet’s polar regions and remains frozen as water ice. Valles Marineris is just south of the planet’s equator, where temperatures typically aren’t cold enough for water ice to remain.“
“The observations were collected by the orbiter between May 2018 to February 2021. Previously, other orbiters have searched for water just beneath the Martian surface and detected small amounts under Martian dust. A study detailing the findings published Wednesday in the journal Icarus.“
Comment: This should be welcome news to Musk and his plan to establish a city of one million on Mars. The location seems ideal. Scientists say “assuming the hydrogen we see is bound into water molecules, as much as 40% of the near-surface material in this region appears to be water.” That’s a lot of water, even if it is in the form of subsurface permafrost. Musk’s city could be built in caverns dug into the valley walls to be protected from radiation. I bet Musk’s Boring Company is planning a Martian version of their tunnel boring machine. Being near the equator will mean more effective solar power than at the poles. Yes, this could be the place.