Astronomers Find Massive Underground Reservoir of Liquid Water on Mars

Astronomers Find Massive Underground Reservoir of Liquid Water on Mars

Astronomers Find Massive Underground Reservoir of Liquid Water on Mars

Professor Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research, said the discovery reinforced work over the past few years that had identified water as the first resource to be "mined" in space.

For the first time ever, scientists believe they've discovered a significant body of liquid water on Mars. The study area is highlighted using a THEMIS IR image mosaic. The reflectance times of the radar pulses acts as a probe to see what types of materials are hidden beneath the surface and its overall topology. Credits: USGS Astrogeology Science Center, Arizona State University, ESA, INAF.

However, Stillman, who was not involved in the research, said another spacecraft, or other instruments, need to be able to confirm the discovery.

Mars is now cold, barren and dry but it used to be warm and wet.

Salts in the lake are believed to have kept the water - which has a temperature as low as -68C (-90F) - from freezing over.

So, how did MARSIS find this lake?

MARSIS "then measures how the radio waves propagate and reflect back to the spacecraft", said the study.

"This really qualifies this as a body of water". The Martian water news cycle is pretty active, thanks to multiple discoveries of ice deposits on the surface and frozen vapor in the atmosphere.

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Liquid water hanging out beneath the planet's surface, which is too hot for it to survive, has been a suspected reality for years. Today, a team of Italian scientists announced evidence that Mars has lakes of liquid water under its polar ice caps.

Artistic impression of the Mars Express spacecraft probing the southern hemisphere of Mars. The radar cross section has been tilted 90°. "Most importantly, this allows liquid water, essential for life". But that feature had been ascribed to a boundary between the dust-containing ice that dominates Mars' surface and a layer of pure water ice that is expected to exist below that.

But dissolved salts of magnesium, calcium, and sodium - known to be present in Martian rocks - are thought to maintain the briny miniature sea by reducing the melting point of water to minus 74C. With the stunning findings, that debate is likely to be put to bed.

"Nobody dares to propose that there could be any more complex life form", Orosei said. The announcement is likely to get scientists thinking about how to use existing instruments orbiting Mars to give this region a more careful examination.

There is already speculation about the presence of these "extremophiles" in the salty subsurface oceans discovered inside some of the icy moons in our solar system.

Liquid water is hiding beneath Mars' south pole glaciers, researchers reviewing radar data have confirmed.

This discovery of a salty subsurface lake, on an object much closer to the Sun, and much larger than a moon, is even bigger news.

Whether anywhere other than Earth has harbored life is one of the supreme questions in science, and the new findings offer tantalizing evidence, though no proof.

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