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This Is Big: Liquid Water “Lake” Found On Mars

An Italian team of scientists says it has strong evidence of a subsurface lake of liquid water on Mars. It’s a discovery that adds to the speculation that there could once have been life on Mars — and raises the possibility that it might be there still today, since liquid water is an essential ingredient for life.

The evidence comes from an instrument called MARSIS aboard the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet. MARSIS is a special kind of radar called ground-penetrating radar.

Stofan says finding liquid water is something scientists are extremely interested in scientifically, “because life here on Earth evolved in liquid water. It stayed in the oceans for over a billion years. And so as we go outward from the Earth, looking for evidence of life beyond Earth, we’re always looking for liquid water.”

The water in the Martian underground lake is probably salty, otherwise it would freeze solid, even deep in the ground, Stofan says.

And the salts are mostly likely made up of something called perchlorates, “which are very toxic to life here on Earth. But on Mars, who knows?”

It’s not clear where the water the Italian team found is coming from, and it’s not certain there are any other underground lakes to be found. But you can bet the new results will encourage others to look.