For a long time scientists have been questioning whether life is possible on Mars . An important element that is necessary for this is water. It was already known that there is ice on Mars. Scientists also thought that water was once present on the planet. In 2008, NASA announced that water had been identified in a sample of the soil. From this new great discovery it appears that there is probably even liquid water on the red planet.
Water on Mars
The liquid water is located about 1.5 kilometers below the ice cap of the south pole of Mars. It would be a large lake of about twenty kilometers wide. Italian astrophysicists made the discovery with the European satellite Mars Express. The radar of this is directed at the south pole of Mars. The radar sends radio signals to the surface of the planet and measures the reverberation. The signals go through stone and ice, but bounce back at liquid water. The scientists explain in the journal Science why water is the most plausible explanation for the reflection, and not dry ice.
How is it possible that the water is liquid under the ice cap? Is not it too cold for that? This can then be explained by the high pressure and the composition of the water. The water is probably salt, due to a combination of magnesium, calcium and sodium. They do not know how deep the water is and what else is in the water.
Life possible on Mars?
The question of questions is, of course, whether people can live on Mars. With the discovery of liquid water, this is a step closer. All ingredients for life are then present on Mars. A difficulty is that the water freezes if there is no ice cap. If there is a connected water network under the surface, life would be possible.
In 2020, a satellite from China will be launched. It contains a radar instrument with a slightly different frequency. The scientists hope to find even more liquid water lakes.