Discovery is beyond wildest imagination — MARTIAN SECRET

Discovery is beyond wildest imagination — MARTIAN SECRET

Discovery is beyond wildest imagination — MARTIAN SECRET

Australian experts have applauded the find, saying the discovery of liquid and frozen water resources is key due to their ability to produce fuel and provide life support for astronauts during deep space missions, allowing lower cost launches and space operations.

Astronomers used radar data from the orbiting European spacecraft Mars Express to find the water.

With surface temperatures as low as minus 68C, it would not exist as a liquid under normal conditions.

The lake may exist as a layer of clear water, or possibly be mixed with soil to form a sludge. Water is considered a fundamental ingredient for life.

Despite Mars being a prime suspect in the search for extra-terrestrial life, the attempts of finding liquid water on Mars has seen many failures.

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If large bodies of liquid water lie beneath Martian polar ice, they could theoretically harbour living microbes to this day.

An Italian team of scientists detected the lake while carrying out a radar survey using the Mars Express spacecraft.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter has been circling Mars since 2003.

But dissolved salts of magnesium, calcium, and sodium - known to be present in Martian rocks - are thought to maintain the briny miniature sea by reducing the melting point of water to minus 74C.

The tool is called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS), and was created to find subsurface water by sending radar pulses that penetrate the surface and ice caps. However, the presence of liquid water at the base of Martian polar caps was first hypothesized in a study 31 years ago.

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But because of the thin atmosphere and the cooling of the planet, most of its water is locked up in ice.

"This subsurface anomaly on Mars has radar properties matching water or water-rich sediments", Roberto Orosei, the principal investigator, said in a statement released by the agency.

"Caution needs to be exercised, however, as the concentration of salts needed to keep the water liquid could be fatal for any microbial life similar to Earth's", added Watson, who was not involved in the research. But the MARSIS team had to use a new method of getting high-resolution raw data from their instrument, then had to combine three and a half years' worth of observations-29 separate radar profiles-before they were confident in their conclusion. "We had to conclude that there is water on Mars today".

Being able to access water sources could also help humans survive on a future crewed mission to Earth's neighbouring planet, with NASA aiming to send explorers in the 2030s.

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