UNITED STATES: An international team of scientists has discovered new evidence that suggests the Red Planet’s south polar ice cap may contain liquid water.
The results, which used data rather than radar to make their case, offer the first conclusive proof that there is liquid water beneath Mars’ south pole. They were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Sheffield used laser altimeter data from spacecraft to analyse the structure of the ice cap’s upper surface and detect minute variations in the height of the ice cap.
After that, they showed how these patterns match up with computer simulations of how a body of water beneath the ice sheet might affect the surface.
Their findings relate to preliminary ice-penetrating radar readings that were thought to indicate potential locations of liquid water beneath the ice.
There has been debate over how to interpret the liquid water in each individual radar data set, and some research has suggested that the liquid water is not the cause of the radar signal.
Frances Butcher, the study’s second author from the University of Sheffield, stated that the finding that two of the most important pieces of evidence for subglacial lakes on Earth have been found on Mars is a wonderful indication that there may be liquid water present on the Red Planet.
Even though it doesn’t prove that life is present on Mars, Butcher argued that liquid water is an essential component of life.
The water beneath the South Pole may need to be extremely salty to be liquid at such low temperatures, according to the experts. Any microbiological life would find it impossible to live there because of this.
This, however, raises the possibility that livable conditions once existed when the climate was less harsh.