underground lakes on mars
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists say that they may have found evidence that confirms that a large mass of liquid water is present just under the surface of Mars. The original discovery of the underground lakes was in 2018. The team of researchers thinks that they may have found three more subsurface saltwater lakes near the main one they just found. This is a massive discovery. These underground lakes could be habitats for life. This is not a new finding. The first finding was met with tons of skepticism. This is because they were based on only 29 observations from 2012 to 2015. This finding, on the other hand, is based on 134 observations that happened between 2012 and 2019. So, this is a different story. The is less to doubt.

Seeing Underground Lakes With Sound

The scientists made use of data obtained from a radar device that is located on the ESA’s (European Space Agency) Mars Express spacecraft. The main function of the radar device is to investigate Mar’s southern polar region. MARSIS, the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere instrument, can send out radio waves that then bounce off a planet’s surface. Different materials reflect the waves differently. Underground lakes here on Earth are found the same way.

When scanning an area of about 30,000 square miles, the team of researchers found areas that indicate the presence of water under a half-mile of ice. So, for an idea of scale: The main lake 19 miles wide. It was the one discovered back in 2019. These three smaller lakes near it are just a few miles across.

This Doesn’t Mean There’s Life

These findings of underground lakes are definitely cool and all, but there is still some doubt as to whether there is life there or not. Many think that we won’t find lakes on Mars at all. Planetary scientist Jack Holt is one of them. He is a member of NASA’s MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) program. Jack doesn’t think that the flow of heat under the surface is enough to keep water in liquid form. He says that even if we do find liquid water under the ice it doesn’t mean we will find life. The temperatures on Mars only make things worse for the prospect of life. The lakes that are there would need to be very salty to exist as a liquid. If it’s more than 5 times saltier than Earth’s ocean it won’t be able to support life.

If you liked this article, then you should possible signs of life on Venus.

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