For the first time ever, researchers have found evidence of a liquid body of water outside of the Earths atmosphere.
Liquid water found on Mars – Scientists using ground-penetrating radar found a 12-mile (about 20km) wide lake about a mile beneath the southern ice cap of Mars.
Though the water has a temperature as low as -68C (-90F), – high concentrations of salt in the lake are believed to have prevented it from freezing over.
For life as we know it to be sustained, liquid water is essential. The search for extraterrestrial life may be getting closer in this new extraordinary discovery.
Water found on Mars
The discovery was made by the Mars Express orbiter using a radar instrument known as Marsis.
Although the conditions in the lake may be too harsh to support life, the discovery supports the possibility of other bodies of water existing on the Red Planet which may be warmer and less salty.
Although the planet is cold and harsh now, scientists believe that around 3.6 Billion years ago, the climate was very similar to earths now and that there was plenty of liquid water.
Marsis wasn’t able to determine how deep the layer of water might be, but the research team estimate that it is a minimum of one metre.
Dr Manish Patel from the Open University explains: “We have long since known that the surface of Mars is inhospitable to life as we know it, so the search for life on Mars is now in the subsurface.
“This is where we get sufficient protection from harmful radiation, and the pressure and temperature rise to more favourable levels. Most importantly, this allows liquid water, essential for life.”
The find makes the inevitable manned Mars missions all the more exciting planned by private companies such as Elon Musk’s space ex all the more exciting.