For what appears to be a barren desert world, apparently, Mars is shockingly wet. Two years ago, scientists detected a lake located below the Martian South Pole. New data show that he may not be the only one in the neighborhood.
A team of Italian scientists says they found three new underground lakes near the south pole of Mars, bringing the total number of hidden bodies of liquid water to four, reports the MIT Technology Review. Liquid water from underground lakes would probably not be of much use to future Martian settlers, but it is still a valuable discovery. If there were any extraterrestrial life on Mars, these underground lakes would be a wonderful place to observe.
The same Italian scientists found the first lake on Mars two years ago, reports the MIT Tech Review. This time, they discovered the others after reviewing data collected by a radar antenna on a Mars orbiter funded by NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ISA), according to a investigation recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
This time, they used new radar tricks to distinguish the wet and dry conditions tested in Antarctica and Greenland to find new water reserves, which MIT Tech reports are all quite similar in size and composition to the first.
The best way to investigate this further is to study the waters directly. Elena Pettinelli, a physicist at Roma Tre University in Rome and co-author of the new study, says a lander or rover platform would be best suited for this task. The biggest problem, of course, is getting to these depths.
One way to solve the problem could be to measure seismic activity, which could shed light on the entire depth and geometry of water bodies, but also on the parts that are largely likely to be habitable. But seismic observations would still be very vague to tell us something definitive about the existence of life on Mars.
Unfortunately, for future explorers on Mars, this water is obviously not drinkable, being almost certainly extremely salty. Otherwise, it would be frozen in a huge block of ice, MIT Tech reports. So it wouldn’t taste too refreshing, but Italian scientists suspect that the lakes would be an excellent starting point in the hunt for any theoretical Martian life.