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Large Underground Lake Detected Below Mars Ice Cap, Study Says

26 July 2018, 11:01 | Justin Tyler

Large Underground Lake Detected Below Mars Ice Cap, Study Says

Scientists Detect Liquid Lake on Mars

"A single body of water could be a quirk of nature, but the existence of many lakes would indicate that subglacial water is a common occurrence, and that could mean that liquid water was present on Mars throughout most of its geological history", he said.

Their findings were published today in Science Magazine and serve as the first proof (if entirely true) of liquid water on Mars, a planet which many believe will one day serve as a refuge for humanity.

The Mars Express spacecraft discovered the body of water beneath the southern ice cap. MARSIS is a low-frequency radar and altimeter that features operation altitudes up to 800 km above the Martian surface for subsurface sounding and up to 1200 km for ionospheric sounding.

"Nobody dares to propose that there could be any more complex life form", Orosei said.

"There's nothing special about this location other than the MARSIS radar on the Mars Express spacecraft is most sensitive to that region meaning there are likely similar water deposits below the ground all across Mars", said Duffy. In the final evenings of this month, the planet looms like a red lantern in the East, just 35,784,871 miles from Earth - the closest it has been in 15 years.

The result is exciting because scientists have long searched for signs of present-day liquid water on Mars, but these have come up empty or yielded ambiguous findings.

Astronomers have discovered a large underground lake of liquid water lurking just below the surface of Mars.

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.

Mars and its south polar ice cap, seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The "stunning" find, which was announced yesterday, at last confirms a long-standing theory about submerged water on Mars, in what scientists said was a discovery of "extraordinary significance". However, the latest discovery likely provides the "first evidence of life" outside the planet Earth. "There, water is salty and there are single-cell organisms that survive in such an environment, with a metabolism that makes use of the salts in the water", he said.

This image provided by the ESA/INAF shows an artist's rendering of the Mars Express spacecraft probing the southern hemisphere of Mars. Coincidentally, one of these zones lies right over the new study area where the unusual signal was found, Bramson said.

The data was collected from May 2012 to December 2015, and is seen as a stable underground lake below the surface of Mars. The bright horizontal feature at the top represents the icy surface of Mars in this region.

NASA is planning to launch a new rover as early as July 2020 with a mission to comprehensively determine whether life ever arose on Mars, while characterising the climate and geology of the red planet and preparing for human exploration.

"It will open up a very interesting area of science on Mars", he said.

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