Giant Liquid Water 'Lake' Discovered On Mars

Radar has found liquid water on Mars, but don't expect anyone to drink it

Alan Duffy, an astronomer from Swinburne University and the lead scientist of Australia's Science Channel, said: "This is a stunning result that suggests water on Mars is not a temporary trickle like previous discoveries but a persistent body of water that provides the conditions for life for extended periods of time".

The data comes from the ESA's Mars Express orbiter, which carries a ground-penetrating radar instrument called MARSIS.

"We discovered water on Mars", says Roberto Orosei, a researcher with the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF). "Most importantly, this allows liquid water, essential for life".

The radar brightness alone isn't enough to prove that liquid water is responsible.

For the past 12 years, a spacecraft-mounted radar called MARSIS has been sending radio waves down to Mars, which reflect back information about the make-up of the planet below.

Authors of the Science paper, "Radar Evidence of Subglacial Liquid Water on Mars", include Orosei, Flamini and Cicchetti, plus S.E. Lauro, E. Pettinelli, M. Coradini, B. Cosciotti, F. Di Paolo, E. Mattei, M. Pajola, F. Soldovieri, M. Cartacci, F. Cassenti, A. Frigeri, S. Giuppi, R. Martufi, A. Masdea, G. Mitri, C. Nenna, R. Noschese, M. Restano and R. Seu.

An underground salt-laden lake has been found on Mars, according to Italian researchers.

"Even with those limitations, we've now found that there is likely to be liquid water in the Martian subsurface", Stamenkovic said.

Radar has found liquid water on Mars, but don't expect anyone to drink it
Huge lake of salty water found buried deep in Mars

A report on the discovery of the underground lake appears in the journal, Science.

"For water to exist under the surface it has to be deep and really salty, and that last part is significant because that is exactly the type of place you go look for lifeforms".

Water is thought to have flowed across the surface of Mars billions of years ago, when its atmosphere was thicker and warmer, cutting gullies and channels that are still visible.

"We have long since known that the surface of Mars is inhospitable to life as we know it, so the search for life on Mars is now in the subsurface", Manish Patel from the Open University said.

"Nobody dares to propose that there could be any more complex life form", Orosei said. It has to be at least about three feet deep, or else it would not have been picked up by the radar scan, Orosei said. The readings turned up a bright radar reflection indicative of liquid water, shown as blue on the map at right. The announcement is likely to get scientists thinking about how to use existing instruments orbiting Mars to give this region a more careful examination. The data also ruled out liquid CO2, which is not polarized like water and thus has low permittivity. The weight of kilometres worth of ice above it could also be keeping the water in a liquid state, the researchers say.

The researchers said it could take years to verify whether something is actually living in this body of water that resembles a subglacial lake on Earth, perhaps with a future mission drilling through the ice to sample the water below.

Bramson said the Mars radar community remained curious about why SHARAD didn't detect water below the south pole.

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