Researchers from the Italian Space Agency say they used radar to detect the lake under the planet's southern polar ice cap. Deep beneath the surface, however, the weight of overlying soil and glaciers - as well as the potential presence of dissolved salts - could allow water to stay liquid even at what would otherwise be below-freezing temperatures.
When most people talk about water on Mars, they're usually talking about ancient water or frozen water.Now we know there's more to the story.
Researchers have found evidence of an existing body of water on Mars, according to the BBC. Previous claims of evidence for liquid water, in the form of changes in gullies and dark streaks called recurring slope lineae attributed to flows of briny water, had turned out to be caused by dry avalanches.
The discovery was made using a radar instrument on board the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, which launched in 2003. The footprints are color-coded corresponding to the "power" of the radar signal reflected from features below the surface.
In a new paper published in Science, a European team of researchers reports that they've found what seems to be "a stable body of liquid water on Mars", right where Clifford predicted it'd be. There had been some signs of liquid water now on Mars, including disputed evidence of water activity on Martian slopes, but not stable bodies of water.
The lake was discovered on the south polar ice cap of Mars and is covered in a sheet of ice, the thickness of which is yet to be determined. 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. "This could be the first habitat discovered on Mars", he said in an e-mail.
The Mars Express hasn't been alone in its quest.
After all, it isn't easy to explain the presence of water at Mars's south pole.
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"After years, literally a couple of years of.discussion, debate, and let's say general head scratching, we really felt confident that any other explanation would fail", Orosei says.
Scientists from the National Institute for Astrophysics say it's the first conclusive proof that H2O exists there now, even though there's evidence of it having been there in the past. The device sends radar signals that pierce the ice at the planet's surface, and measures how the "radio waves" spread and reflect back 'to the probe'.
"Water is considered one of the fundamental requirements for life".
The publication states that the find is so large that it resembles subglacial lakes on Earth.
Determining whether life has ever existed on Mars remains an open question and is one that consumes many astronomers.
"I think the more we explore Mars, the more intriguing and complex it becomes", Lunine said.
"Water tends to collect in lower topography", Orosei said.