The privately built Dragon space capsule's maiden flight to the International Space Station is just weeks away, but SpaceX and NASA already have big dreams for Dragon's next steps. In a presentation at NASA late last month, SpaceX and space agency officials discussed sending Dragon to Mars.
More than 30 years ago, images of the Martian surface taken by the Viking mission orbiters revealed unusual apron-shaped sloping areas at the base of taller geographical features. Researchers analyzing the Viking data puzzled over the features, called lobate debris aprons, which only occurred in the mid-latitude regions of Mars.
The shape of the debris aprons, and the fact that they only occurred in the temperate zone, caused researchers to speculate that they might contain large amounts of water ice. Now, thanks to dramatic improvements in remote sensing technology, that speculation has turned to near certainty.