Vast Lake Of Liquid Water Discovered On Mars

The southern ice cap on Mars where a huge underground body of liquid water was discovered using radar

The southern ice cap on Mars where a huge underground body of liquid water was discovered using radar

A huge lake of liquid salty water has been found buried deep in Mars, raising the possibility of finding life on the red planet.

Orosei and colleagues used a radar instrument called MARSIS aboard the Mars Express spacecraft to make their discovery.

Scientists Roberto Orosei (L), Elena Pettinelli (C) and Enrico Flamini pose near a replica of the Cosmo Sky Med satellite before a news conference where they announce after first-time detection of liquid water on Mars by italian radar Italian radar MARSIS, on board the ESA's Mars at the Italian Space Agency headquarter in Rome, Italy July 25, 2018.

The hunt for evidence of past or present life on Mars has gotten a number of boosts in recent decades, including the discovery of what might be organic molecules in rock samples, but the biggest question on the minds of those who imagine the planet might have supported life is that of water. The blue triangle indicates an area of very high reflectivity, interpreted as being caused by the presence of a reservoir of water, about a mile below the surface.

For the past 12 years, a spacecraft-mounted radar called MARSIS has been sending radio waves down to Mars, which reflect back information about the make-up of the planet below. (AAP) A provided image shows an artist's impression of the Mars Express spacecraft probing the southern hemisphere of the red planet.

The frozen south pole of Mars is hiding something and a group of European researchers believe they know what it is.

Vast Lake Of Liquid Water Discovered On Mars

"Even with those limitations, we've now found that there is likely to be liquid water in the Martian subsurface", Stamenkovic said.

Even if this new discovery is validated, experts are lukewarm about whether this body of water would be suitable for life. In Earth's polar regions, the pressure of the overlying ice lowers its melting point, and geothermal heat warms it from below to create the subglacial lakes. It was home to plenty of liquid water and lakes at least 3.6 billion years ago.

One of the ingredients that scientists look for in the search for life is water - not just trace amounts of humidity or ice that freezes and vaporizes, but stable sources of water - such as an underground lake or aquifer.

Whether microbial forms of life could lie within is a matter of debate.

Speaking with the BBC, Orosei said it probably isn't "a very large lake", but added that this is a body of water and not runoff from a glacier or something else.

Researchers said they are not sure how far down it goes, but may be around one meter (three feet) deep. For those sadly and annoyingly not up on Mars-related happenings, this is notable in that it potentially marks the first time such a body of liquid water has been seen. Learning more about these caps can reveal Mars' climate history. Orbiters have also revealed enormous glaciers residing just under the surface, potentially accessible to any future explorers or even colonists that go there in the future. And unfortunately, we don't have that understanding-the instrument was simply too large to open it up and calibrate it on the ground before Mars Express was launched.

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