ibusinesslines.com October 21, 2018

Italian Space Agency says it’s found evidence of water on Mars

26 July 2018, 10:56 | Justin Tyler

Italian Space Agency says it’s found evidence of water on Mars

NASA  ESA  Hubble Heritage Team- STScI  AURA J. Bell- ASU M. Wolff- Space Science Institute via AP

The discovery was made by using the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) instrument aboard the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. Water is crucial to life as far as we understand it, but it's hard to come by on Mars.

After decades of trying to answer the question of whether Mars has liquid water, scientists appear to have found the answer, and the implications of their discovery could be huge. It was home to plenty of liquid water and lakes at least 3.6 billion years ago.

An artist's impression of the Mars Express spacecraft probing the southern hemisphere of the planet.

Since then, we've found gaseous water in the atmosphere and frozen water on the ice caps, but until now, we've never found a body of water in liquid form.

So the only realistic hope for significant amounts of liquid water is under the surface, at sufficient depth to create enough pressure to allow salt to overcome the low temperatures.

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. Its waters are likely so salty that they remain liquid despite the frigid -90˚ F conditions at the bottom. The radar profile of this sub-surface Martian lake is similar to lakes found under the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets here on Earth, this suggests that there is indeed a subglacial lake on Mars. Because water is essential to life, the discovery offers an exciting new place to search for life-forms beyond Earth.

We discovered water on Mars.

Radar instruments like Marsis examine the surface and immediate subsurface of the planet by sending out a signal and examining what is bounced back.

Given its location beneath the polar ice cap, the water is expected to be below the freezing point of water. "But analogous environments like Lake Vostok show us that such habitats can host hardy microbial life".

From May of 2012 through December of 2015 the Mars Express radar mapped an area near the south pole of Mars. Water is considered a fundamental ingredient for life. On Earth, thousands of species of microbial life have been found in Lake Vostok, a huge lake buried under almost 4km of ice in Antarctica. First, scientists have discovered evidence of a buried lake; that's not the same as finding an actual lake.

Planetary scientists have been embarked on a quest to find liquid water on the red planet, because life as we know it can not survive without water to act as a solvent in its biochemistry.

The scientists say it's because plenty of magnesium, calcium, and other salts from Martian rocks are dissolved in it, forming a brine.

In the immediate future, Orosei said it will be important to keep acquiring raw data from the Martian poles, looking for more subglacial water. Certain areas had "a greater intensity (bright reflections) than the surrounding areas and the surface", intimating at the existence of liquid. The rightmost white line is the surface radar echo, while the light blue spots along the basal radar echo highlight areas of very high reflectivity, interpreted as being caused by the presence of water.

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