Life on Mars? Liquid water lake found on the Red Planet

Life on Mars a possibility after discovery of first-ever liquid water lake

Life on Mars a possibility after discovery of first-ever liquid water lake

The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter spotted the reservoir, which is buried approximately 1 mile beneath ice near the planet's south pole, per a Guardian report.

The presence of liquid water at the base of the polar ice caps has always been suspected; after all, from studies on Earth, it is well known that the melting point of water decreases under the pressure of an overlying glacier.

The water, which was detected by the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) instrument on board the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft, is located 1.5 kilometers (~one mile) beneath the ice, in the form of a lake 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) across under the freezing plains of Planum Australe.

Alan Duffy, an astronomer from Swinburne University and the lead scientist of Australia's Science Channel, says the liquid water is not a lake that you would want to swim in. They also analysed the surrounding deposits and temperature of the environment, and believe the highly reflective body is actually a pool of liquid water saturated with salty sediments.

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.

Still, he said, "Having a stable body of liquid water today is very intriguing and worthy of study".

European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft is depicted in orbit around Mars in artist's concept stereo illustration
European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft is depicted in orbit around Mars in artist's concept stereo illustration

But also, the more hard it is to, because laws of planetary protection state that we can not send any craft from Earth near a potential site of life for fear of contamination. The readings they obtained between May 2012 and December 2015 mirrors data from subsurface liquid water under ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland here on Earth. Planetary scientists have debated for decades whether the Red Planet has liquid water, usually discussing the possible presence of small amounts that quickly appear and disappear, but the new discovery suggests Mars has a large, standing reservoir of water.

Liquid water is hiding beneath Mars' south pole glaciers, researchers reviewing radar data have confirmed.

Those pulses reflected 29 sets of radar samples that created a map of drastic change in signal nearly a mile below the surface. Even so, it has very interesting implications for the possibility of life on Mars, as life does exist on similar-type water bodies on Earth.

But because of the thin atmosphere and the cooling of the planet, most of its water is locked up in ice.

According to early hypotheses, however, the lake is most likely too cold and salty to sustain any sort of life. For the first time, there were images of an alien world, one that the inhabitants of Earth knew basically nothing about. In the history of Mars exploration ever since, the more we learn, the more we think it could have had a watery, perhaps life-sustaining past. Such salts are known to exist in abundance in some Martian rocks, and are the most likely cause of the dewlike droplets and crater-wall rivulets previously observed on the planet's surface.

Green said that a lander mission called InSight that's already on its way to Mars might be able to help provide corroborating evidence. When he and his team drilled into a subsurface lake there a few years ago, they found microbes.

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