Space researchers at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (iNAF) have found new evidence of water existing on Mars. According to the originally reported article on Science, the researchers came across a reservoir buried 1.6 kilometres under Martian surface in the south polar ice cap. The water reservoir spans 20 kilometres across.
Previous research has revealed signs of intermittent liquid water flowing on the red planet’s surface but this is the first time a persistent water body has been found. The discovery was made using Marsis (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding), a radar instrument used by scientists to study the inner crusts of a planet’s surface.
Shaded relief map of Planum Australe, Mars, south of 75 deg S latitude
Although this new discovery of liquid water beneath Mars’ icy surface does suggest the possible presence of life on the planet, we’re no closer to finding and confirming it. According to the BBC, Dr Manish Patel from the Open University said, “We are not closer to actually detecting life, but what this finding does is give us the location of where to look on Mars. It is like a treasure map - except in this case, there will be lots of 'X's marking the spots."
Professor Roberto Orosei of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, who led the study remarked that this newly discovered underground lake qualified as a proper body of water, unlike previous discoveries. According to him, the next step should include sending a robot probe capable of drilling through 1.5 kilometres of ice to the site for further study. This, of course, will need some technological advancements that aren’t yet available to us just yet.
Inline image courtesy: Science