Underground Lake of Liquid Water Found on Mars
A spacecraft has recently discovered an underground lake of liquid water on Mars. The lake is about 1.2 km deep and 20 km wide and found beneath the ice on Mars. Researchers believe that the new discovery made by a radar instrument on a spacecraft raises the possibilities that water, and even life, may exist on the Red Planet.
The finding was published in Science magazine and was based on data collected by the Mars Express Spacecraft of the European Space Agency. The data was collected between 2012 and 2015 with the help of the instrument’s radar pulses which penetrated the Martian surface and its ice caps.
However, researchers say that it could be years before they can verify whether anything is actually living there. The ice needs to be drilled to collect any water samples in order to establish a proof of existence of life on Mars. They further explained that the water at this level can be extremely cold and the temperature can be around -68 degrees Celsius at the South Pole of Mars.
As we know it, such extreme temperatures are not ideal for life but some microorganisms may still probably live in this ice. Previous discoveries of water or ice on Mars were all just a temporary trickle whereas the latest finding is a persistent water body that can probably provide conditions for life for an extended period of time. Some experts even believe that the water, which is cold and briny, may even be mixed with a heavy dose of minerals and salts making it further hard for life to sustain.
While Mars is now cold, dry and barren, it used to be warm and wet 3.6 billion years ago and was home to many lakes and other water bodies. Scientists are now more eager to find any traces of contemporary water as it will be the key to discover if any life was formed on Mars in the ancient past or whether it still persists today. Further, the ability to further access the water sources on Mars will be helpful for the humans to survive while on future crewed missions to the Red Planet.