New Discovery on Mars

First lake of liquid water found on mars

First lake of liquid water found on mars

Researches have found evidence of an existing body of liquid water on Mars. They believe, there be a lake that sits beneath the south polar cap of the planet. And it is about 20 km across. Previous researchers also have found signs of discontinuously liquid water flowing on the Martian surface. But this is the first sign of persistent liquid water body on Mars at present day.

Lake beds like which explored by Nasa's Curiosity rover show water on the Martian surface in the past. Although the planet's climate has since cooled due to its thin atmosphere.  And so, most of its water locked up in the ice. The result is said to be exciting because scientists have searched long for present-day liquid water on Mars.

The discovery was made using a radar instrument on board the  European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Express orbiter. Professor Roberto Orosei from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, who led the study said: "It is obviously not a very big lake". The radar instrument was not able to determine how thick the layer of water might be, but the research team estimates that it is of minimum one meter.

Mean for life

Professor Orosei added " It really qualifies this as a body of water. Not a meltwater that fills space between rocks and ice". Dr. Manish Patel said that we know that life is inhospitable on the Mars surface. So, the research for life is now in the subsurface. "This is where we get sufficient protection from harmful radiation.  And the pressure and temperature rise to more favorable levels. And most importantly, this allows or support liquid water, essential for life."

What next?

This principle of following the water is key to astrobiology - the study of potential life beyond Earth. But the findings do not confirm anything further. It is not closer to detecting life but it gives the location where to look on mars.

Astrobiologists study extreme environments like salt lakes on Earth to understand how life might possible on Mars. Water's temperature and chemistry could also pose a problem for any potential martian organisms. To remain liquid in such cold conditions (the research team estimate between -10 and -30 Celsius where it meets the ice above). The water likely has a great many salts dissolved in it.

Dr. Claire Cousins, an astrobiologist from the University of St Andrews, UK said that it's possible that the water may be an extremely cold, concentrated salty, which would be pretty challenging for life.

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First lake of liquid water found on mars

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