Scientists just discovered a huge body of ice on Mars

For years, scientists have been researching Mars, sending rovers (with more to come) onto the planet to explore our second-closest planetary neighbor. While Venus is technically closer, it’s upon Mars that mankind has placed its future planet habitation hopes.

And now, a new NASA report unveils a new ice deposit on the planet that’s about as big as Lake Superior — 2,900 cubic miles of the essence of life on Earth.

For decades, science educators drilled the following image into the population’s minds: That Mars is a red planet with a large ice cap. But in recent years, researchers have found more and more evidence of water structures, like rivers and rivulets, on the planet’s surface. Though water in its liquid form can’t exist on Mars anymore, the “Utopia” deposit — as NASA calls this new discovery — is close enough to the surface to serve a specific purpose.

In all sci-fi speculations about living on Mars, water plays a key role. The Utopia ice could be a future resource for astronauts exploring the planet, or even one day colonizing it. (Yes, the future is now.) And while Mars isn’t currently crawling with the Martians of yore, it makes you wonder: With that much water on the planet, what used to be there?