Evidence detected of lake beneath the surface of Mars

26 July, 2018, 15:43 | Author: Grady Montgomery
  • Game Changer’ Scientists Say Liquid Water Found on Mars			AFP		25 Jul 2018

In the case of this subsurface lake of water on Mars, the researchers say that it is likely stays liquid partly due to magnesium, calcium and sodium salts, which are common in Mars rocks.

Richard Zurek, the chief scientist in the Mars program office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said the complex, nearly chaotic structure of the ice caps could affect the radar signals in unexpected ways.

"Caution needs to be exercised, however, as the concentration of salts needed to keep the water liquid could be fatal for any microbial life similar to Earth's", added Watson, who was not involved in the research.

In recent years, planetary scientists and astrobiologists have been scouring the Red Planet for water, one of the requirements for life as we know it.

The team also suspects that while they have only found evidence for water at one location, it probably isn't the only subglacial lake on Mars. Where this water went and how, taking most of Mars' atmosphere with it, is one of the great and ominous environmental mysteries of our time.

An Italian team made the discovery analysing a radar survey that was done between 2012 and 2015 by the Mars Express orbiter spacecraft. So while a layer of ice and a layer of rock may both be weakly reflective, the boundary that occurs when ice sits on top of rocks will create a strong reflection that can be detected by an orbiting radar.

"This subsurface anomaly on Mars has radar properties matching water or water-rich sediments", said Roberto Orosei, lead author of the paper and principal investigator of the MARSIS experiment.




A study published on Wednesday in the journal Science has confirmed that liquid water is present on Mars. Orosei estimated the water temperature at somewhere between 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 degrees Celsius) and minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 degrees Celsius).

But researchers are excited about the potential for future finds, because if liquid water could be found at Mars' south pole, it might be elsewhere too.

"This really qualifies this as a body of water".

Scientists from the National Institute for Astrophysics say it's the first conclusive proof that H2O exists there now, even though there's evidence of it having been there in the past. Orbiters have also revealed vast glaciers residing just under the surface, potentially accessible to any future explorers or even colonists that go there in the future. It also opens up the possibility that it is a reservoir not just of water, but of life.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft used radar to detect a lake of liquid water on the Red Planet. It sent radar pulses through the surface and polar ice caps and measured how the radio waves reflected back to Mars Express.

Mars might probably not be hospitable to life today, but when the planet was warm several millions of years ago, it might have hosted microbes - a theory scientists are struggling to confirm through various Martian missions that are now looking for evidence of past life. However, there are [analogous organisms] on Earth, in the subglacial lakes of Antarctica. The south polar layered deposits - layers of ice and dust - are seen to a depth of about 1.5 km. The blue triangle indicates an area of very high reflectivity, interpreted as being caused by the presence of a reservoir of water, about a mile below the surface.

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