Scientists find cluster of underwater lakes on Mars

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Scientists have found a network of salty liquid water lakes on Mars beneath the planet's south pole, according to new research published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

An international team examined radar data from MARSIS, short for Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding. This instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter bounces radio waves off the surface and measures their echoes to image geological structures.

Two years ago, these investigations revealed a subglacial lake 1.5 kilometres below the surface. The lake is in a region called Ultimi Scopuli near the red planet's south pole and measures about 20 kilometres across. Further investigations and analysis of new data from Mars Express have found three additional salty lakes, each a few kilometers wide.

This water would likely be saturated with salts, which would keep it liquid at temperatures as low as 150 degrees Kelvin. Life exists in subglacial lakes on Earth, like Lake Vostok in Antarctica, so these Martian lakes could harbor remnants of life that evolved when the planet had a more hospitable climate and liquid water on the surface.


RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Depiction of ESA's Mars Express spacecraft finding lakes on Mars
2. MARSIS sends out radio waves that bounce off Mars' surface and subsurface
3. Radar sounding investigations reveal subglacial lakes
4. Depiction of Mars with seas and lakes morphs into depiction of Mars today
5. Lakes are likely 'hypersaline' solutions but could harbor microbial life adapted to extreme conditions

VOICEOVER (in English):
"Scientists have found a cluster of briny liquid water lakes on Mars below the planet's south polar ice cap, according to new research published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy."

"An international team examined radar data from MARSIS, short for Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding. This instrument on the Mars Express orbiter bounces radio waves off the surface and measures their echoes to image geological structures."

"Two years ago, these investigations revealed one subglacial lake 1.5 kilometres below the surface. The lake is in a region near the red planet's south pole and measures about 20 kilometres across. Further investigations and analysis have since found three additional salty lakes, each a few kilometers wide."

"Because Mars lacks a substantial atmosphere, the resulting low pressure on the planet's surface makes it impossible for liquid water to form. But the planet had seas and lakes billions of years ago, and liquid water could still exist under the surface."

"This water would likely be saturated with salts, which would keep it liquid at temperatures as low as 150 degrees Kelvin. Life exists in subglacial lakes on Earth, so these Martian lakes could harbor remnants of life that initially evolved when the plane had milder climate and liquid water on the surface."

SOURCES: Science Alert, Nature Magazine, Nature Astronomy, University of Southern Queensland, Nature
https://www.sciencealert.com/multiple-underground-lakes-of-liquid-water-have-been-found-on-mars
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02751-1
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1200-6
https://www.scimex.org/newsfeed/a-whole-series-of-salty-lakes-have-been-found-under-mars-south-pole
https://www.nature.com/news/2004/040712/full/news040712-6.html