Mars is not a faraway dream anymore. Technology has reached the red planet to search and look for any signs of life.
There remain several sightings and observations which keep the scientists hooked to Mars. Now researchers argue that subsurface lakes found under Mars’ south pole may not really be lakes at all. They came up with it using data from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.
In 2018, two research teams working on data from the Mars Express Orbiter announced a surprising discovery. It was signals from a radar instrument reflected off the red planet’s south pole that appeared to reveal a liquid subsurface lake. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
Also, a team of scientists at NASA and Arizona State University (ASU) found dozens of similar radar reflections around the south pole after analysing a broader set of Mars Express data.
According to researchers, many are in areas that should be too cold for water to remain liquid. “Usually, radar waves lose energy when they travel through a material, so reflections from deeper down should be less bright than those from the surface,” said Aditya Khuller of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.
Mars and its Lakes
“Although there are a few possible reasons for unusually bright subsurface reflections, these two studies concluded that a liquid water component was the cause of these bright reflections because liquid water appears bright to radar,” added.
The radar signals which were originally interpreted as liquid water were found in a region of Mars known as the South Polar Layered Deposits.
These areas which were originally hypothesised to contain liquid water span about 10 to 20 kilometres in a relatively small region of the Martian South Polar Layered Deposits.
For conducting this new study, the scientists expanded this search for similar strong radio signals to 44,000 measurements. These were spread across 15 years of MARSIS data over the entirety of the Martian south polar region.
The findings reveal bright radar reflections over a far greater range of area and depth. In some places, they were less than a mile from the surface.
Here temperatures are estimated to be minus 63 degrees Celsius. It is so cold that water would be frozen, even if it contains salty minerals known as perchlorates.
Therefore, it could either be liquid water beneath Mars’s south pole or these signals could be indicative of something else.
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