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29 July 2018, 03:40 | Brenda Erickson
Huge lake of salty water found buried deep in Mars
The researchers said it could take years to verify whether something is actually living in this body of water that resembles a subglacial lake on Earth, perhaps with a future mission drilling through the ice to sample the water below.
It would be at least 20 kilometers wide and would have to be "several tens of centimeters thick" - otherwise the radar could not have detected it.
"This is just one small study area; it is an exciting prospect to think there could be more of these underground pockets of water elsewhere, yet to be discovered", said Roberto Orosei in a statement.
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"The liquid water is not a lake that you would want to swim in, locked away 1.5km beneath the surface of the Martian South Pole, the water would be a brine mixed with perchlorate salts". The Martian water news cycle is pretty active, thanks to multiple discoveries of ice deposits on the surface and frozen vapor in the atmosphere.
While it's always been known that the planet has substantial ice deposits, this is the first time scientists have detected a stable body of water in liquid form on the planet. It stretched about 12.5 miles across and looked very similar to lakes that are found beneath Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets on Earth.
But if water is still there, it would mean it has likely been constant throughout Mars' 4.6 billion year history - making the possibility of life much more likely. In comparison, salty ocean water freezes at 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"Our mantra back then was 'follow the water.' That was the one phrase that captured everything", Hubbard said.
Associate Professor Alan Duffy, lead scientist of Australia's science Channel, said the ending of Total Recall where Arnold Schwarzenegger melted vast ice reserves just became less science fiction and morescience fact.
In 2015, in the first-ever definitive signs of the presence of liquid water on the Red Planet, Nasa'sMars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured strong evidence for seasonal flows of liquid salty water on the Martian surface. 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. This would lower the water's freezing temperature, and combined with the pressures exerted by the 1.5 kilometres of ice above it, it would be prevented from freezing solid.
Speaking with the BBC, Orosei said it probably isn't "a very large lake", but added that this is a body of water and not runoff from a glacier or something else.
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