The patch of Mars that was under study is known as the Planum Australe. "Additionally, landing on the south pole of Mars would be extremely challenging given the high elevation there, which means there isn't a sufficient amount of atmosphere to help slow down a lander upon entry, descent and landing".
Mars long ago was warmer and wetter, possessing significant bodies of water, as evidenced by dry lake beds and river valleys on its surface.
Depending on where and how you look, you can find plenty of water on Mars.
The principle is the same above Mars. The rate and strength at which the signals bounce off each stratum allows the team to try and reconstruct the spacing and composition of layers below the surface. The search for liquid on the planet on the part of MARSIS has been ongoing for the last 12 years. This spacecraft carries an instrument called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument (MARSIS). The discovery of the lake, more specifically, was based on information collected by the instrument between May 2012 and December 2015.
Alessandro Di Meo//EPA-EFE REX Shutterstock Scientis Roberto Orosei announcing the findings during a news conference on Wednesday
Italian astrophysicists Roberto Orosei, Elena Pettinelli and Enrico Flamini at the Italian Space Agency headquarters prior to a press conference in Rome.
Scientists could not measure the thickness of the lake, but said that it had to be around a metre or so thick for the radar pulses to bounce back.
He said a back-of-the-envelope calculation indicated several hundred million cubic meters of water. Once its air had gone, the water either evaporated or froze. Along with pressure from the overlying ice, the salts lower the water's freezing point. The surface is scored by old gorges, canyons, beaches, ocean basins and giant volcanoes, whose eruptions could have kept things riled up on the planet.
He suspects Mars may contain other hidden bodies of water, waiting to be discovered.
"When extremes occur, life moves into the rocks". The subglacial lake's existence is teased by more than two dozen radar samplings of the regions, which were found to have similar profiles to subglacial lakes on Earth near Greenland and the Antarctic.
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"There is evidence on Earth of substantial microbial life in the waters below the poles - and even microbes that can survive within ice veins".
This particular lake, however, would be neither swimmable nor drinkable.
"Nobody dares to propose that there could be any more complex life form", Orosei said.
Some experts are skeptical of the possibility since the lake is so cold and briny, and mixed with a heavy dose of dissolved Martian salts and minerals.
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A dose of realism: Liquid water in large quantities could be a real boon to any future Martian colonists. The temperatures and salt content of the water pose a major obstacle for any living organism to exist.
Dr John Priscu, a professor of ecology at Montana State University, has been studying Antarctica biology.
MARSIS uses radar pulses that go deep into the surface of Mars. Then, concerned that their hope the bright spots might be water could blind them to other explanations, Orosei and colleagues spent nearly as long trying to demolish their own data. "They're eating the rocks for energy". "We can show that there's enough energy to drive chemotrophic life-life that doesn't need sun, but lives on chemistry", he said.
What do you think of the study findings? . "We've been finding life in places it shouldn't be according to our current thinking of life".
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