In a discovery that is sure to influence the future of Mars exploration, NASA announced the detection of vast amounts of water ice only a few meters below the surface of Mars.

This discovery will unquestionably change our assumptions about the sort of land forms and geological features we see down on the surface, as well as modify our theories about how the Martian climate may have changed in the past. And it’s certainly perked up the ears of hopeful astro-biologists (scientists who search for microbial life elsewhere in our solar system), as on Earth, sub-surface ice is known to support entire ecosystems.