Liquid water on Mars! Lake discovered under Martian ice cap

Posted July 29, 2018

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).

Data was collected for roughly three years using an instrument aboard the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft that penetrated the Martian ice caps and sent back radar pulses to the Express.

They obtained 29 sets of radar samplings, mapping out an area exhibiting a very sharp change in its associated radar signal, about 1.5 km below the surface of the ice and extending sideways about 20 km.

The presence of liquid water on Mars has always been suspected but thus far evidence from MARSIS remained inconclusive. Calculations have suggested that these conditions may be met at the Martian poles, where large ice caps composed of both water and frozen carbon dioxide exist.

Liquid water is considered as one of the necessary ingredients for life to emerge, and finding it on Mars is promising, but scientists have yet to find any evidence that the planet is or was habitable. It stretched about 12.5 miles across and looked very similar to lakes that are found beneath Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets on Earth.

Billions of years ago, Mars is thought to have had oceans and rivers, much like Earth.

The ISA team's findings will appear in this week's issue of the journal Science, they will reignite speculation about the planet's geology and the potential for life on Mars.

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"This water would be extremely cold, right at the point where it's about to freeze". Though the mission has been in progress since 2003, this is their first major piece of evidence that liquid water now exists anywhere on the red planet.

Scientists have previously claimed to find bacterial life in the buried depths of Antarctica's Lake Vostok, but drilling on Mars would make for an ambitious project indeed.

It has been known from earlier measurements by spacecraft, including the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, that there is water ice at the poles of Mars.

The body of water is about 20 kilometres across and, if confirmed, would be the first evidence of permanent water on the Red Planet.

"This really qualifies this as a body of water". The lake could be a possible habitat for life, the report said.

Speaking in a recorded interview released by Science, Prof Orosei revealed that his team spent years checking their results before being confident enough to announce the discovery.

Associate Professor Alan Duffy, lead scientist of Australia's science Channel, said the ending of Total Recall where Arnold Schwarzenegger melted vast ice reserves just became less science fiction and more science fact.

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