Published: Sun, July 29, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Underground lake found on Mars raises possibility of life

Underground lake found on Mars raises possibility of life

"This could be, perhaps, the first habitat we find on Mars", said Orosei, who led the study published in the journal Science, according to The Washington Post.

Just two years later, this claim was refuted with evidence appearing to show the alleged water flows are actually just granular flows of dust.

The discovery was made by Italian scientists who were analysing images from the the Mars Express spacecraft - a European satellite.

Italian researchers said evidence gathered from the radar signals of an orbiting spacecraft suggests a 12-mile-wide reservoir buried near the planet's south pole, The Associated Press reported.

Analysis of that data had already identified a highly reflective region beneath the thickest part of the southern ice cap in an area called the Planum Australe. 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.

"The liquid water is not a lake that you would want to swim in, locked away 1.5km beneath the surface of the Martian South Pole, the water would be a brine mixed with perchlorate salts".

Our quest on Mars has been to 'follow the water, ' in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we've long suspected.

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Mars is now cold and dry, but 3.6 billion years ago was home to plenty of liquid water. And, just like the subglacial lakes here on Earth, it is certainly feasible that life may also be found in the one just discovered on the red planet.

Theoretically, this water could have allowed microbes that have evolved to thrive in saltier conditions a chance at existence, though Orosei believes any potential Martian life would have "not a very pleasant" experience.

"We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars", the authors wrote in the study.

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.

The water is likely to be below the freezing point for water (32°F or 0°C) given its location beneath the ice cap, but the presence of minerals such as magnesium, calcium and sodium perchlorate in the soil of the northern plains of Mars, "support the presence of liquid water at the base of the polar deposits".

Boffins have discovered the first-ever liquid water lake on Mars and is thought to be the largest body of liquid water ever found on the Red Planet. After that, the discovery of a liquid lake is groundbreaking news. The lake could be a possible habitat for life, the report said. Learning more about these caps can reveal Mars' climate history.

The scientists analyzed radar profiles, within a 200 km-wide area, collected between May 2012 and December 2015.

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