CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – A network of salty lakes could gurgling beneath the South Pole of Mars next to a large underground lake, raising the expectation of small, swimming Martian life.
Italian scientists reported their findings on Monday, two years after discovering what they believe to be a large buried lake. They expanded their covered area by a hundred miles, using more data from a radar sound in the European Space Agency’s Mars Space orbit.
In a recent study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists provide further evidence of a salty underwater lake, estimated at 12 miles to 18 miles (20 kilometers to 30 kilometers) in total and buried 1 mile (1.5 kilometers) below the freezing surface.
Even more enticing, they also recognized the three smaller waters surrounding the lake. These ponds appear to be of various sizes and separate from the main lake.
Nearly 4 billion years ago, Mars was as hot and humid as Earth. But the red planet eventually went to the barren, dry world that remains to this day.
The research team led by Roma Tre University Sebastian Emanuel Lauro used a technique similar to what was used on Earth to find buried lakes in the Antarctic and Canadian Arctic. Based on their findings in more than 100 Mars Express radar observations from 2010 to 2019; spacecraft was launched in 2003.
All of this potential water increases the likelihood of microbial life on – or within – Mars. High salt concentrations are likely to prevent water from freezing in this freezing location, scientists said. The surface temperature at the South Pole is approximately minus 172 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 113 degrees Celsius), and gradually warms up to depth.
These bodies of water are potentially biologically interesting and “future missions to Mars should target this region,” the researchers wrote.
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