Photo credit: Steve Lee, Univ. Colorado/Jim Bell, Cornell Univ./Mike Wolff, SSI/NASA
Scientists published new research today in the journal Nature Astronomy that indicates the evidence of a buried reservoir of super-salty water near the south pole Mars, thus vastly improving the likelihood that the planet might harbor microscopic life of its own. This underground “lake” of liquid water pooled beneath frozen layers of sediment near the Martian south pole, similar to the subglacial lakes found beneath the Antarctic and the Greenland ice sheets on Earth. Read more for a video and additional information.
A radar instrument on Mars Express, called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS), was used to probe the planet’s southern polar region. This instrument transmits radio waves that bounce off layers of material in the planet’s surface and subsurface. How the signal is reflected back indicates the kind of material that is present at a particular location — rock, ice or water.
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We are much more confident now. We did many more observations, and we processed the data completely differently. We identified the same body of water, but we also found three other bodies of water around the main one,” said Elena Pettinelli, a professor of geophysics at Italy’s Roma Tre University.