Possible Underground Lake Discovered on Mars

Possible Underground Lake Discovered on Mars

A new study published Science suggests that there may be a liquid water lake below the ice on Mars’ south pole.

Mars Ice
Diagram of mars showing areas with shallow ice beneath the surface or slopes that seem to show periodic flows of water are potential havens for terrestrial life.

A new study published on the journal Science suggests that there may be a liquid water lake below the ice on Mars’ south pole.

While water is thought to have once been abundant on Mars billions of years ago, this is the first to be found. Researchers used radar data from an instrument called MARSIS to look below the surface of Mars. MARSIS is on board a European Space Agency spacecraft called Mars Express, which has been in orbit around Mars since 2003.

Additional research will be required to confirm these new findings.

Nathalie Cabrol, astrobiologist and Director of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute, remarked in National Geographic:

“What you see here is potentially the presence of water, of shelter ... and you’re going to produce nutrients out of the minerals,” she says. “What you need is a source of energy … and if there were recent volcanoes in the polar regions, then this is definitely a place that would become a high habitability and life target.”

On the other hand, she notes, “it would be a very problematic place to go, because it would be under the special regions for planetary protection,” she says, referring to the UN regulations aimed at preventing interplanetary contamination of habitable environments.

The full article from National Geographic can be found here.

The full article reporting the research in Science can be found here.