OREANDA-NEWS The Russian neutron detector FREND (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector) aboard the Trace Gas Orbiter of the Russian-European mission ExoMars-2016 detected hydrogen accumulations in the soil of Mars. This is reported by the Space Research Institute (IKI) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"A new map of the hydrogen content in the soil of Mars has been created according to the data of the Russian FREND neutron detector aboard the TGO spacecraft of the Russian-European mission ExoMars-2016. With the help of it you can see both vast "arid" areas and peculiar "oases" where the hydrogen content in the soil exceeds 20%", the message says.

"The mystery is that these "oases" are located at temperate latitudes, where the temperature and pressure of the atmosphere are not conducive to the conservation of water", scientists add.

According to the institute, the FREND neutron spectrometer measures the flux and energy spectrum of neutrons from the surface of Mars. Using these data it is possible to restore the hydrogen content on the surface and in the soil of the planet to a depth of 1 meter.

"Knowing the concentration of hydrogen, we can assume how much water could be found if all the detected hydrogen belonged to water molecules", the IKI reports. If the water equivalent of hydrogen (WEH) is more than 20% by mass, then the instrument is most likely observing pure water ice.

"On the FRIEND map, 23 areas with increased water content (WEH > 5 wt%) were marked, while an important criterion was that they sharply differ from the environment in this indicator. These kind of "oases" represent interesting material for research", - the Institute claimes.

According to the IKI data, two of these "oases" are located relatively close to the equator. FREND estimates that the WEH value here is 23–24 wt%, which suggests that hydrogen may be present here in the form of water ice.

"But, according to current ideas, an open glacier cannot exist in the equatorial regions of Mars because of the relatively high temperature and low pressure. The answer to this mystery has yet to be found", the scientists concluded.