Researchers spot what looks like a standing ‘lake’ of water on Mars

This image made available by NASA shows the planet Mars

"This is potentially the first habitat we know of on Mars".

Evidence points to a body of water buried a mile below the southern ice cap on Mars.

Scanning Mars with radar from a space probe, researchers have detected a lake of liquid water under the ice that stretches more than 12 miles across, according to a new study published Wednesday.

Lake beds like those explored by Nasa's Curiosity rover show water was present on the surface of Mars in the past. That's because polarized materials like water-which has a positive charge on the hydrogen side and a negative charge on the oxygen side-change two parameters of each radar pulse, the amount that is reflected and the speed at which radar waves move through the material.

An Italian team made the discovery analysing a radar survey that was done between 2012 and 2015 by the Mars Express orbiter spacecraft.

Their results suggest that a 20km-wide reservoir lies below ice about 1.5km thick in an area close to the planet's south pole.

Located under a layer of Martian ice, the lake is about 20 kilometres wide, said the report led by Italian researchers in the U.S. journal Science. Scientists believe the water is kept in liquid form by a salty brine that Orosei and colleagues speculatively describe as a "sludge".

Radar instruments like Marsis examine the surface and immediate subsurface of the planet by sending out a signal and examining what is bounced back. A particularly bright radar reflection underneath the layered deposits is identified within a 20 km-wide zone.

The Latest Gun Violence Victim Was a Father of Two Parkland Survivors
He allegedly returned soon after and shot Ali, who was pronounced dead at the Broward Health Medical Center. The sheriff's office released the surveillance video Thursday in a bid to identify and locate the shooter.

Beneath this, researchers spotted something unusual. So while a layer of ice and a layer of rock may both be weakly reflective, the boundary that occurs when ice sits on top of rocks will create a strong reflection that can be detected by an orbiting radar.

What does this mean for life?

"This is where we get sufficient protection from harmful radiation, and the pressure and temperature rise to more favourable levels". The depth of the water is not known. Water is considered a fundamental ingredient for life. "This is certainly not a very pleasant environment for life ..."

The water's temperature and chemistry could also pose a problem for any potential martian organisms.

To be clear, there's no sign of any actual Martian microbes swimming around, and the environment is not obviously hospitable - the water at the base of the polar cap is estimated to be minus-90 degrees F, far below the typical freezing point of water.

"What needs to be done now", explained Dr Matt Balme from the Open University, "is for the measurements to be repeated elsewhere to look for similar signals, and, if possible, for all other explanation to be examined and - hopefully - ruled out".

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. "The normal interpretation would be we have discovered a subglacial lake and people would drill and find if that's true", Orosei said.

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Daniel Sturridge raves about new Liverpool FC signing
Jul 26, 2018 - 02:26
It was that good because we had Daniel in the right spaces and he could lead the group with the ball, if you want. They broke the world transfer record for a goalkeeper when they landed Alisson Becker from Roma for €75m.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Three homicides in five days at BART stations an ‘anomaly,’ official says
Jul 26, 2018 - 02:01
Kaiser Medical in Richmond filed a restraining order against him after he was accused of threatening to kill an employee in 2016. "It was, in my close to 30 years of police experience, probably one of the most vicious attacks that I've seen", he said.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Demi Lovato's family issue statement after "suspected overdose"
Jul 26, 2018 - 01:59
The singer has been open about her addictions and her struggle with bipolar disorder and an eating disorder. Paramedics found her unconscious when they arrived at her home. "I wouldn't be here without them.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Fake Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez interview defended as ‘satire’ after backlash
Jul 26, 2018 - 01:40
Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary last month, suggested that the video looked more like a dirty trick than a joke. While joking around with a poster on Twitter , Ocasio-Cortez told that poster that "My identity has been exposed".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Sony announces industry-first 48MP smartphone camera sensor
Jul 25, 2018 - 02:41
Speaking of DSLR, this could effectively kill off the market as the new sensor features a Quad Bayer colour filter array. This comes at the expense of resolution, though, resulting in - in the case of Sony's new sensor - 12-megapixel photos.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Cornet wins Swiss Open title at Minellas expense
Jul 25, 2018 - 01:20
Alize Cornet secured a sixth career singles title with a straight sets victory over Mandy Minella in the final of the Swiss Open at Gstaad.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 7/23/18: Evolution Number Nine
Jul 25, 2018 - 01:12
I know we always ask this, and that this part is copy and pasted in every week, but we appreciate it every week. In the background, however, you can see "The Game", Vince and Stephanie exiting the ring.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top PM's Bureaucrats Officially Take Charge of Brexit Talks, Brexit Department Snubbed
Jul 25, 2018 - 01:03
British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party is also deeply split over what Brexit policy to support. There will be no net reduction to staff numbers in Mr Raab's department, she said.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Duck boats exempt from Missouri life jacket law
Jul 24, 2018 - 03:01
She said that after a while she felt there was nothing left to do but give up her fight and let go, allowing God to take her. She suffered a concussion, but her father, retired math teacher Steve Smith, 53, and her 15-year-old brother, Lance, died.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Cubs give child a baseball to right a wrong by another fan
Jul 24, 2018 - 02:33
The Cubs' newest reliever, Jesse Chavez , made his debut with two scoreless innings to finish out the game. Louis Cardinals are now slaughtering the rival Chicago Cubs by a score of 18-4 in the seventh inning.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Beach umbrella impales woman
Jul 24, 2018 - 02:16
Authorities said part of the umbrella pierced the woman's ankle after being driven along by the force of the wind. Last week a woman at a beach in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, was impaled in her ankle by a flying beach umbrella.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Sky rider Moscon expelled from Tour de France for hitting rival
Jul 24, 2018 - 02:12
The 24-year-old was disqualified from the race after punching Fortuneo-Samsic rider Elie Gesbert early on stage 15 to Carcassonne. He's let himself down, he's let his team down and now he's gone home.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Hero Trader Joe's worker barricaded people in a stock room before escaping
Jul 24, 2018 - 02:11
Other videos showed an employee dragging a person out of the store and employees escaping on a rope ladder outside a window. Frightened customers and workers dived for cover as police bullets fired at the man shattered the store's glass doors.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Gowdy: Trump missed 'good opportunity' to confront Putin
Jul 24, 2018 - 01:08
After the Mueller indictment against 12 Russian officials was announced, Trump went ahead with the planned meeting with Putin. Podesta's emails, they hacked into the DNC, it could be us next.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top 6ix9ine Hospitalized After Reportedly Being Kidnapped and Robbed
Jul 23, 2018 - 02:44
Three hooded gunmen emerged, and one cold-clocked the rapper with a pistol before dragging him into their auto . One of the gunmen started to chase him but stopped because he was afraid he would later be recognized.