Discovery of liquid water 'lake' on Mars

Discovery of liquid water 'lake' on Mars

Scientists have discovered a body of liquid water on Mars for the first time, raising the possibility that the Red Planet could sustain life. Orosei estimated the water temperature at somewhere between 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 degrees Celsius) and minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 degrees Celsius).

The hunt for evidence of past or present life on Mars has gotten a number of boosts in recent decades, including the discovery of what might be organic molecules in rock samples, but the biggest question on the minds of those who imagine the planet might have supported life is that of water.

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. Certain areas had "a greater intensity (bright reflections) than the surrounding areas and the surface", intimating at the existence of liquid.

Mars Express' MARSIS radar instrument made 29 dedicated observations in a 200-kilometer-square area near Mars' south pole between 2012 and 2015, indicated on the map at left. NASA's website says SHARAD is created to see up to 4 km (2.5 miles) under the surface, which would include the zone where Mars Express detected signs of water.

A team of Italian researchers on Wednesday announced they have discovered a large saltwater lake.

"Even with those limitations, we've now found that there is likely to be liquid water in the Martian subsurface", Stamenkovic said.

In Antarctica, scientists handle a core filled with sediments from the bottom of subglacial Lake Whillans.

A dose of realism: Liquid water in large quantities could be a real boon to any future Martian colonists. But that's not enough to overcome the extremely low pressures of the Martian atmosphere, which would cause any ice to sublimate off into vapor instead of melting.

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Mars is now cold and dry, but 3.6 billion years ago was home to plenty of liquid water.

Another ground-penetrating radar is aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, called SHARAD, which is short for "shallow radar".

Steve Clifford, a scientist who specializes in water on Mars at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, told Space.com that while the Italian team's argument was "very persuasive" it is "not conclusive".

"The radar profile of this area is similar to that of lakes of liquid water found beneath the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets on Earth, suggesting that there is a subglacial lake at this location on Mars", said the report.

"If there is microbial life operating there, it's operating under conditions that would be at the very limits of what we know life operates under here on Earth", said Brent Christner, a microbiologist at the University of Florida. The researchers said that the lake is about 20km across and at least one metre deep, which apparently qualifies it to be a lake according to the lead researcher.

"We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars", the authors wrote in the study. But some experts are cautioning that this discovery alone does not ensure the eventual discovery of life on Mars.

Those pulses reflected 29 sets of radar samples that created a map of drastic change in signal nearly a mile below the surface.

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