A large body of water is under the Martian surface, scientists say

A large body of water is under the Martian surface, scientists say

A large body of water is under the Martian surface, scientists say

Data from NASA's Cassini orbiter, even though the mission ended in 2017, continues to provide researchers with evidence of organics under the ice of Saturn's moon Enceladus, although they can't yet tell if geology or biology produced those organics (Cassini simply wasn't equipped to tell the difference).

MARSIS sent radar pulses that penetrated the surface and ice caps of the planet, then measured how the radio waves propagated and reflected back to the spacecraft, providing scientists with what lies beneath the surface.

Between May 2012 and December 2015, MARSIS mapped the area around the southern ice cap of Mars.

Those pulses reflected 29 sets of radar samples that created a map of drastic change in signal nearly a mile below the surface.

Dissolved salts are thought to keep the water fluid, despite having a temperature below freezing point.

It remains to be seen if more subsurface reservoirs of water will be found or whether the newly discovered one is some sort of quirk, Orosei said. It stretched about 12.5 miles across and looked very similar to lakes that are found beneath Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets on Earth. However, the presence of liquid water at the base of Martian polar caps was first hypothesized in a study 31 years ago.

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.

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Previous research has found possible signs of water sporadically flowing on the surface of Mars and Nasa's Curiosity rover was able to explore ancient lake beds that suggest the planet once had copious water.

"This took us long years of data analysis and struggles to find a good method to be sure that what we were observing was unambiguously liquid water", said study co-author Enrico Flamini, chief scientist at the Italian Space Agency.

"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 neighbour planet and its habitability".

Chevrier said he also wanted to know how old the body of water might be. The presence of the underground lake was discovered by scientists at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), in Rome, DailyMail cited. The announcement is likely to get scientists thinking about how to use existing instruments orbiting Mars to give this region a more careful examination.

"All the technology to drill through this ice to the lake doesn't exist yet so it will probably take at least another 25 years before we will be examining this".

Of course, the big question now is whether this lake or others like it is home to microbial life.

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