The Italian Space Agency (ISA) says it's found the first proof of water on Mars.
Since water's permittivity is much higher than that of rock or ice, the scientists concluded that they must have found a liquid lake beneath Mars' southern ice cap. The study area is highlighted using a THEMIS IR image mosaic.
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.
"MARSIS was able to detect echoes from beneath the southern polar cap of Mars, that were stronger than surface echoes", Orosei explained. The presence of the underground lake was discovered by scientists at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), in Rome, DailyMail cited.
This particular lake, however, would be neither swimmable nor drinkable, and it lies nearly 1.6 kilometers beneath the icy surface in a harsh and frigid environment.
For the first time, scientists have detected a lake of salty water under the Martian ice, a study released Wednesday said.
So, how did MARSIS find this lake?
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"Our mantra back then was 'follow the water.' That was the one phrase that captured everything", Hubbard said.
The presence of water under the Martian polar ice caps has always been suspected but not seen until now, the study said. The radar cross section has been tilted 90°.
"Since United Launch Alliance put a price on delivering water in space in 2016, researchers, agencies and companies have focused on water, for support of life and chemical processes, and for conversion to hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel", he said.
This artistic rendering shows the Mars Express Spacecraft probing Mars' south pole.
Speaking with the BBC, Orosei said it probably isn't "a very large lake", but added that this is a body of water and not runoff from a glacier or something else. When they found evidence of the subterranean lake, they were careful not to jump to conclusions, the scientists told NPR.
There is already speculation about the presence of these "extremophiles" in the salty subsurface oceans discovered inside some of the icy moons in our solar system.
Whether anywhere other than Earth has harbored life is one of the supreme questions in science, and the new findings offer tantalizing evidence, though no proof.
Whether microbial forms of life could lie within is a matter of debate.
"It will require flying a robot there which is capable of drilling through 1.5km of ice". "This will certainly require some technological developments that, at the moment, are not available".