In a big breakthrough in finding water on mars, researches on Wednesday said that they have identified an existing liquid water body on the Red Planet. The news was met with excitement and is the biggest discovery ever since the expeditions and year long searches for water on the planet have begun.
Scientists announced that they have detected what they believe to be a large reservoir of water under the surface of Mars. The “lake” measures 20-km across and is located about 1.5 km below Mars’s southern polar ice cap. While previous researches had shown sign of intermittent liquid water flowing on the planet, this is the first sign of a still flowing water body present on the planet as of today. Traces of water on mars had been found earlier in the past but it is all believed to be turned to ice now owing to the planet’s thin atmosphere resulting in lowering temperatures over its history.
The discovery was made using a tool called MARSIS on the ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter to study the thickest part of Mars’s southern ice cap. The readings obtained mirror data from subsurface liquid water under ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland here on Earth.
This breakthrough of finding water on mars is the hardwork of 15 years by the Mars Express who have been orbiting the planet since 2003. Using the MARSIS to study the interior and structure of Mars using radar signals, the team was able to detect something unusual 1.5km below the layer of ice, dust and rock in the Southern region of the planet.
“In light blue you can see where the reflections from the bottom are stronger than surface reflection. This is something that is to us the tell tale sign of the presence of water,” said Prof Orosei.
Prof Roberto Orosei from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, who led the study said “It’s probably not a very large lake,”.
The research team believe the water body to be atleast 1mm thick. Prof Orosei also added that “This really qualifies this as a body of water. A lake, not some kind of melt water filling some space between rock and ice, as happens in certain glaciers on Earth,”.
Although the water present will mostly be formed of magnesium and calcium, the major components of Mars’ surface, life does exist on such water bodies in Earth and this has sparked real hopes of life being present on the Martian.