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Subsurface Water Ice Mapping (SWIM) Project

Why is it in the news?

  • The SWIM project, funded by NASA and led by the Planetary Science Institute, has released its fourth and most detailed map indicating potential subsurface water ice locations on Mars.
  • Initially, in 2019, the SWIM project focused on Mars’ northern hemisphere. The following phase in 2020 expanded to cover the southern hemisphere.

Significance of the New Mars Ice Mapping

  • The map offers updated data on ice reservoirs, utilizing Context Camera (CTX) and High-Resolution Imaging Experiment (HIRISE) instruments.
  • The map serves as an essential tool for future Mars missions, highlighting water ice resources, which could decrease the need for transporting water from Earth, streamlining mission logistics.
  • Bolsters our comprehension of Mars’ geological characteristics and surface formations.
  • Aids in pinpointing areas with possibilities of past or current life on Mars.
  • Propels exploration and utilization of resources on the Mars.

About Mars

  • Positioned as the fourth celestial body from the Sun, Mars, often referred to as the “Red Planet,” is a frigid desert planet, roughly half the size of Earth.
  • Its distinctive red hue is attributed to the rusty iron present in its soil.
  • Mars showcases dynamic features, including seasons, polar ice caps, extinct volcanoes, and traces indicating even more past activity.
  • Its thin atmospheric layer comprises carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.
  • Although there are indicators of historical floods on Mars, presently, water primarily exists in the form of icy soil and sparse clouds.


Successful Mars Mission Nations/Agencies
NASA (USA)Marine series; Viking series; Pathfinder; Rovers: Spirit, Opportunity (2003); Phoenix (2007); Curiosity (2011); Maven (2013-14); Perseverance (2021).
European Space Agency (EU)Mars Express (2001)
ISRO (India)Mangalyaan (MOM) (2014)
UAEAmal (Hope Mission) (2021)
ChinaTianwen 1 (2021)

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