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Scientists identify lake of liquid water under surface of Mars
27 July 2018, 05:20 | Justin Tyler
The view of Mars shown here was assembled from MOC daily global images obtained
The finding, if confirmed, will provide new insight into Mars' climate history, spur a search for other subsurface water sources, provide a possible resource if people ever travel to the planet - and help focus the ever-hopeful search for signs of Martian life, past or present.
Italian researchers have detected the existence of liquid water on Mars, raising hopes that life will be eventually found on the Red Planet.
Roberto Orosei, a co-investigator on the radar instrument and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science, said the scientists could not measure the thickness of the lake, but that it had to be at least a yard or so thick for the radar pulses to bounce back.
The temperature of the water in the 12-mile-wide lake is believed to be minus-90 degrees Fahrenheit. That data revealed what appears to be evidence of liquid water sitting trapped beneath the ice on the planet'spole.
Since everything is a competition, perhaps this exciting discovery will inspire Donald Trump to improve NASA's budget to make sure the United States wins the race to Mars.
But it is quite likely that this body of water isn't a big lake. Water is crucial to life as far as we understand it, but it's hard to come by on Mars.
Analysing the properties of the reflected radar signals and considering the composition of the layered deposits and expected temperature profile below the surface, the scientists interpret the bright feature as an interface between the ice and a stable body of liquid water, which could be laden with salty, saturated sediments. The depth of the water is not known.
In the coming years, several new Mars missions are planned, including new rovers by both American space agency NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).
The scientists who analyzed these radarechoes were careful to consider all the things that could have made the echoes they measured, including explanations that don't involve liquid water, and they were able to rule out most of those explanations. They've turned to the icy regions, which contain ice caps of water and Carbon dioxide that may hide liquid water beneath. "We can show that there's enough energy to drive chemotrophic life-life that doesn't need sun, but lives on chemistry", he said. For the first time, there were images of an alien world, one that the inhabitants of Earth knew basically nothing about.
"This water would be extremely cold, right at the point where it's about to freeze". SHARAD operates at different frequencies than MARSIS does, but it's also created to pick up subsurface features.
In the immediate future, Orosei said it will be important to keep acquiring raw data from the Martian poles, looking for more subglacial water. When he and his team drilled into a subsurface lake there a few years ago, they found microbes. "I see cells in it, but it's so briny that the cells-I can't get them to metabolize, " he said, referring to the chemical processes that all organisms undertake to survive.
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