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Water on Mars: Scientists discover 12 MILE liquid lake on Red Planet
25 July 2018, 11:13 | Justin Tyler
HIDDEN The lake is thought to be buried deep underground
The lake was discovered in the Planum Australe region using the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) instrument.
After ruling out other explanations, they believe that the signals could reveal a patch of liquid water, more than 12 miles across and about a mile beneath the ice.
"This thrilling discovery is a highlight for planetary science and will contribute to our understanding of the evolution of Mars, the history of water on our neighbor planet and its habitability", said Dmitri Titov, ESA'sMars Express project scientist.
Water, of course, is a prerequisite for life as we know it. Ed Howker has the details, and we talk to astrobiologist Manish Patel and Tom Kerss, an astronomer based at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
What's really remarkable about this discovery is that Mars Express launched in 2003, but until now the ESA simply weren't able to get the resolution in the radar images that they needed.
"It's probably not a very large lake", Prof Roberto Orosei (via BBCNews) from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, who led the study said.
The tool is called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS), and was created to find subsurface water by sending radar pulses that penetrate the surface and ice caps.
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.
"Maybe this could even be the trigger for an ambitious new Mars mission to drill into this buried water-pocket - like has been done for sub-glacial lakes in Antarctica on Earth".
"This is a discovery of extraordinary significance, and is bound to heighten speculation about the presence of living organisms on the Red Planet", said Fred Watson of the Australian Astronomical Observatory.
It is the first time a large stable body of liquid water has been confirmed to exist on Mars.
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