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

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

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

Scientists believe the water is kept in liquid form by a salty brine that Orosei and colleagues speculatively describe as a "sludge". The results were published Wednesday in the journal Science.

Since then, we've found gaseous water in the atmosphere and frozen water on the ice caps, but until now, we've never found a body of water in liquid form. However, the latest discovery likely provides the "first evidence of life" outside the planet Earth.

"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".

We know that abundant liquid water existed on ancient Mars.

A new mission to Mars may have to wait, though. If there is indeed a persistent body of water there, it could have huge implications for future Mars missions.

Mars researcher Ali Bramson is a graduate associate at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson. But, he cautions, "I'd say it's not quite the smoking gun". The find could end a more than century-long debate over whether or not the Red Planet still has liquid water.

Readings from ground-penetrating radar suggest the presence of liquid water about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) beneath the Martian surface. It also opens up the possibility that it is a reservoir not just of water, but of life.

In Antarctica, scientists handle a core filled with sediments from the bottom of subglacial Lake Whillans. The study's abstract notes that it is surrounded by "much less reflective areas", a sign that it is indeed water. Although if it is, biologists have said that it would be at the limits of habitability. It's terribly cold on Mars, particularly at the poles, but the ice creates an insulating layer so that temperatures further down can actually be warmer.

Between May 2012 and December 2015, the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (or "MARSIS" for short) surveyed the region of Mars known as the Planum Australe, a 200-kilometer area on the planet's southern polar plain, which is composed of water ice, Carbon dioxide ice, and admixed dust. In the Antarctic, all similar values have been associated with liquid water.

"But there are terrestrial organisms that can survive and thrive, in fact, in similar environments".

High levels of salt and temperatures dozens of degrees below zero do not bode well for any microbes trying to live there, Stillman says. For around three years, according to EurekAlert, researchers used the MARIS tool to study the Planum Australe, Mars' southern ice cap. But the spacecraft's eccentric orbit oscillates between distances of 220 miles and 6,200 miles from the Martian topography, giving the team relatively brief periods of time to probe beneath the ice.

A massive underground lake has been detected for the first time on Mars, raising the possibility that more water and maybe even life - exists there, global astronomers have said.

They spent at least two years examining the data to make sure they'd detected water, not ice or another substance.