Is There Life On Mars?

Multiple bodies of water have been discovered on Mars. Scientists believe that billions of years ago, water flowed, and lakes were thriving on Mars. But since then, Mars has lost a large amount of its atmosphere, which means liquid water cannot last long on the surface, but that does not include water underground.

The discovery of these underground lakes was made using data from a radar instrument called MARSIS, on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express Craft, which has been orbiting Mars since 2003. In 2018 researchers used data from the MARSIS radar to report signs of a vast subsurface lake that was under 1.5km of Mars south pole (Orosei). A team has analyzed a much more considerable amount of data from 2010 to 2019, and not only confirmed the lake’s existence in 2018 but discovered even more water (Rincon).

Coauthor of the report, Elena Pettinelli, reported to BBC News, “Not only did we confirm the position, extent, and strength of the reflector from our 2018 study, but we found three new bright areas. Smaller bodies of liquid water surround the main lake, but because of the technical characteristics of the radar and its distance from the Martian surface, we cannot conclusively determine whether they are interconnected.”

The existence of these underground lakes that have been discovered could mean wonders for the possibility of life forms still existing on Mars.

Dr. Roberto Orosei, the principal investigator on the MARSIS experiment, reported that these lakes existing for so long meant, “they could still retain traces of any life forms that could have evolved when Mars had a dense atmosphere, a milder climate and the presence of liquid water on the surface, similar to the early Earth”.

Studies like these are crucial to humans’ existence because it helps us understand more about our world and the possibility of continuing our existence on another.

 

Sources for this story are available at:

Orosei, R., et al. Radar Evidence of Subglacial Liquid Water on Mars. 3 Aug. 2018, science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6401/490.full.  

Rincon, Paul. Buried Lakes of Liquid Water Discovered on Mars. 29 Sept. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54337779.  

“Mars: Italian Scientists Discover a Lake of Salty Water below the Surface.” ResearchItaly, ASI, 27 July 2018, www.researchitaly.it/en/success-stories/mars-italian-scientists-discover-a-lake-of-salty-water-below-the-surface/.  

Graziella Caprarelli Adjunct Research Fellow. “Buried Lakes of Salty Water on Mars May Provide Conditions for Life.” The Conversation, 30 Sept. 2020, theconversation.com/buried-lakes-of-salty-water-on-mars-may-provide-conditions-for-life-146928.  

“Mars Express: The Mission – Science Instruments: MARSIS.” NASA, NASA, mars.nasa.gov/express/mission/sc_science_marsis01.html.