Mars’ south pole is covered in layered deposits of ice and sediment. It is below such areas that liquid water has been identified by MARSIS. (Image: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
Water has been found on Mars! (Yes, again.)
In what’s turned into the biggest space news of the day, today ESA (and that’s pronounced “eesa”, you don’t need to spell it out) announced that the Italian-run radar experiment aboard its Mars Express orbiter has provided the first good evidence of liquid water present beneath the surface of Mars’ south pole. It’s an underground reservoir of water!
The layer of water is shallow—to even have been detected it must be at least several tens of centimeters—sediment-laden and located 1.5 kilometers (about a mile) below the surface, but is fairly widespread within the 200-km area scanned with ground-penetrating radar. The entire “lake” region is at least 20 km across.
ESA’s Mars Express has used radar signals bounced through underground layers of ice to find evidence of a pond of water buried below the south polar cap. Credit: Context map: NASA/Viking; THEMIS background: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University; MARSIS data: ESA/NASA/JPL/ASI/Univ. Rome; R. Orosei et al 2018
“This is just one small study area; ...