An artist’s rendering of the Mars Express spacecraft investigating the southern hemisphere of Mars

He used a radar instrument called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) which is on board the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, which launched in 2003.

The radar brightness alone isn't enough to prove that liquid water is responsible.

"While the surface of Mars is inhospitable, there is the fascinating possibility that microbial life could survive and flourish in sub-glacial Martian waters", she says.

Using radar to probe the polar ice caps of Mars, scientists have detected an underground reservoir of liquid that may be saltwater and that extends for about 20 kilometers in length. "Anywhere we find liquid water is a good candidate".

The principle is the same above Mars.

Twenty-nine observations were made between 2012 and 2015 in the Planum Australe region at the south pole using the MARSIS radar on ESA's Mars Express spacecraft.

The subsurface lake could be similar to Antarctica's Lake Vostok, or to the subsurface seas thought to exist on the Jovian moon Europa or the Saturnian moon Enceladus.


It has taken the persistence of scientists working with this subsurface-probing instrument to develop new techniques in order to collect as much high-resolution data as possible to confirm their exciting conclusion.

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

He said a back-of-the-envelope calculation indicated several hundred million cubic meters of water.

"This water would be extremely cold, right at the point where it's about to freeze". That suggests that the water is brim full of salts, allowing it to melt. The ice caps above the lake likewise increase pressure, impacting the melt point and potentially helping pave the way for a subglacial liquid water lake.

The team that wrote the study, including lead author Professor Roberto Orosei, have ruled out any other causes for the brightness.

But also, the more hard it is to, because laws of planetary protection state that we can not send any craft from Earth near a potential site of life for fear of contamination. The only way we can put life on the planet in the future is to ensure without a doubt that there had been no life on it in the past. Where this water went and how, taking most of Mars' atmosphere with it, is one of the great and ominous environmental mysteries of our time.

"When extremes occur, life moves into the rocks".


The location's radar profile resembled that of subglacial lakes found beneath Earth's Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.

This finding makes it more likely that there will be "not just extinct life but extant life", he says.

This particular lake, however, would be neither swimmable nor drinkable.

Carbon compounds and minerals have already been found on the Martian surface.

In recent years, planetary scientists and astrobiologists have been scouring the Red Planet for water, one of the requirements for life as we know it. "I see cells in it, but it's so briny that the cells-I can't get them to metabolize, " he said, referring to the chemical processes that all organisms undertake to survive. The discovery was reported in the journal Science. They found bacteria still living there in complete isolation.

"They haven't seen the light of day for hundreds of thousands of years", he said. "They're eating the rocks for energy".

Evidence for Mars' watery past is prevalent across its surface in the form of vast dried-out river valley networks and huge outflow channels clearly imaged by orbiting spacecraft.


The lake was found under this ice.

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