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The University of Copenhagen believes massive glaciers are beneath the Red Planet’s dusty exteriorNASA

A team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen has suggested that Mars could be covered by giant glaciers of ice.

The Martian polar ice caps were first photographed in 2004, and now experts believe that they could be accompanied by massive glaciers that are covered by the Red Planet's dusty exterior – which could ultimately be protecting it.

The new research, published in the Geophysical Research Letters, states the large amounts of ice are located between the latitudes 300-500 in the southern and northern hemisphere of the planet – roughly equivalent to Denmark's location on earth, and in a similar position at the other end of Mars.

Mars
The polar ice caps and the icy beltsMars Digital Image Model, NASA/Nanna Karlsson

The glaciers have been under debate for some time as to what is forming them, but using radar measurements from a Nasa satellite, the team has concluded that it is in fact water-ice. Such is the size of the glaciers that if they were to be spread around the whole of the planet, they would cover the surface of Mars in 3.3ft of Ice.

Nanna Bjørnholt Karlsson, from the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, says: "We have looked at radar measurements spanning ten years back in time to see how thick the ice is and how it behaves. A glacier is after all a big chunk of ice and it flows and gets a form that tells us something about how soft it is. We then compared this with how glaciers on Earth behave and from that we have been able to make models for the ice flow.

"We have calculated that the ice in the glaciers is equivalent to over 150 billion cubic meters of ice -- that much ice could cover the entire surface of Mars with 1.1 meters of ice. The ice at the mid-latitudes is therefore an important part of Mars' water reservoir."