For years scientists have searched for water in its liquid state on Mars, and it seems that a group of scientists from the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics have just confirmed its presence. The water is located in an underground lake below the south pole of the Red Planet and will has a size of about 20km.
In the past, there was already some speculation about probable intermittent flows of water on the planet, but this is the first time that the existence of water in this state is proven.
It has already been proven by NASA’s Curiosity rover that the planet had in its past several lakes with water in the liquid state, but with the evolution of the planet and consequent cooling and reduction of the density of the atmosphere, the planet’s water changed into the solid state, being present on current days in the form of ice.
The discovery was made by analyzing the data obtained by the Marsis radar, from the Mars Express probe which is orbiting the red planet, and according to Professor Roberto Orosei, who is responsible for the study, the lake will probably not be very deep, something that could not be investigated due to the fact that the Marsis radar does not have the ability to measure the depth of the lake, although the team suspects it should be about one meter.
Unlike some glaciers that can be found on our planet and which are only small deposits of water, contained between ice and rock, this appears to be a lake.
The radar works by emitting a signal that is reflected in the background, and then returns to the radar, and this signal allows to analyze the geography of the ground. When investigating the area in question, the researchers detected an anomaly about 1.5km below the ice, which raised the suspicion of the existence of an underground lake.
It is known that the inhospitable surface of Mars does not allow for the existence of life as we know it, and this being an acquired fact, the researchers have tried to focus on the region that possibly could sustain the life more familiar to us, the subsoil.
The reason for the subsoil being the best bet to find life on the red planet, is that it offers a natural barrier to dangerous solar radiation and the atmospheric pressure and temperature are also much more conducive to life in that area, allowing also the formation of water in its liquid state.
Although this discovery does not bring us closer to the discovery of life on the red planet, it points us to the direction to go, and confirms where we should look.