Water on Mars: Scientists discover 12 MILE liquid lake on Red Planet

Water on Mars: Scientists discover 12 MILE liquid lake on Red Planet

In 2015, in the first-ever definitive signs of the presence of liquid water on the Red Planet, Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured strong evidence for seasonal flows of liquid salty water on the Martian surface.

Today, a team of Italian scientists announced evidence that Mars has lakes of liquid water under its polar ice caps.

"This is the place on Mars where you have something that most resembles a habitat, a place where life could subsist", said planetary scientist Roberto Orosei of Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Italy, who led the research published in the journal Science.

While it's always been known that the planet has substantial ice deposits, this is the first time scientists have detected a stable body of water in liquid form on the planet.

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.

There is no reason to conclude that the presence of subsurface water on Mars is limited to a single location.

Radar instruments like Marsis examine the surface and immediate subsurface of the planet by sending out a signal and examining what is bounced back.

"The long duration of Mars Express, and the exhausting effort made by the radar team to overcome many analytical challenges, enabled this much-awaited result, demonstrating that the mission and its payload still have a great science potential".

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Pettinelli cautioned that researchers hesitate to call the signal an underground "lake", but at the same time they are confident there is water in the sediments because they considered and discarded other hypotheses.

Scientists have also traveled deep underground into mines and found microorganisms related to ancient species that once lived in watery environments much closer to the surface. However, there are [analogous organisms] on Earth, in the subglacial lakes of Antarctica.

The next step is for space authorities to definitively confirm the body of water is there - and then the search for life begins.

The researchers noted that together, with the pressure of the, this lowers the melting point, allowing the lake to remain liquid, as happens on Earth. The Mars water would have to have a similar make-up to actually be liquid.

There is another satellite orbiting Mars right now, but it hasn't detected what MARSIS did.

Such radars are useful when searching for liquid water, "because water is a very strong radar reflector", he says.

Marsis wasn't able to determine how deep the layer of water might be, but the research team estimate that it is a minimum of one metre. "If that were to be liquid water, it would be only feasible if there will be large concentrations of salts within it". Water is crucial to life as far as we understand it, but it's hard to come by on Mars.

"A single body of water could be a quirk of nature, but the existence of many lakes would indicate that subglacial water is a common occurrence, and that could mean that liquid water was present on Mars throughout most of its geological history", he said. "It will open up a very interesting area of science on Mars", he says.

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