NASA/JPL/Arizona State University
BREAK NEW GROUND. THOR will aim for deposits that lie on the floors and slopes of craters throughout Mars' middle latitudes. Scientists suspect these layers, deposited during a Martian ice age, are rich in ice or snow.
THOR Mars Mission Seeks Underground Water
Scientists at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility are developing a mission named THOR (Tracing Habitability, Organics, and Resources) for NASA's Mars Scout program. The mission plan involves a two-part spacecraft, with an impactor and an instrument-carrying observer craft.

THOR will send a projectile to strike Mars at high speed, while instruments aboard the observer study both the debris plume and crater made by the impactor.

"THOR's goal is to expose snow and ice in a previously unexplored part of Mars -- the deep subsurface. We'll do this by blowing a crater at least 30 feet deep in the Martian ground," says THOR's principal investigator Phil Christensen of ASU. "This region of Mars may provide chemical and mineral clues to tell us about habitable areas on the planet."

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