Astronomers have found a lake on Mars

Астрономы нашли озеро на Марсе

The team used radar waves to monitor the planet’s surface.

On Mars there is no shortage of water. Astronomers believe that beneath the dusty regolith of the planet is not less than 5 million cubic kilometers of ice.

In the nineteenth century the American astronomer Percival Lowell popularized the idea that there are channels crossing the surface of Mars, carrying water from the poles.

The best telescopes and the advent of space probes in the 1960-ies showed channels like a Mirage. Low temperature of Mars and the weak pressure of its thin atmosphere means that no liquid water will remain on the surface. However, in 2006, the seasonal changes of a pair of Martian craters has led to the fact that astronomers have suggested that a small amount of liquid water may be a little bubble on the surface during the Martian summer.

However, over a decade later, this hypothesis remains unproven.

In an article published in the journal Science on July 25, Roberto Orosei from the National Institute of astrophysics in Italy and his colleagues reported the discovery of lakes of liquid water 20 km in diameter buried 1.5 km beneath the surface of Mars, near its southern polar ice cap. The lake seems Martian cousin of the earth’s lake Vostok, an underground lake in Antarctica.

Different materials reflect radar waves with different intensities. The team used radar sensors on the space probe “Mars Express” to explore the area 200 km South of the Arctic plains of the planet. After more than three years of data collection, Dr. Orosei felt quite confident in asserting that water is the only explanation of the evidence team.

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The fact that the lake is underground, is the key to its conservation, says Suzanne Spencer, a planetary scientist from the Open University in the UK. As in Antarctica, the thickness of the ice cover isolates the water from freezing on the surface of the planet. At the same time, the pressure of the ice, lowers the freezing point of water below 0 °C. if the water “flavored” salts of sodium, magnesium and calcium, all of which are discovered on Mars, the temperature of freezing can further be reduced.

The discovery is exciting from a purely geological point of view. But the big question is, can there exist life. In lake Vostok life exists, although it has been cut off from the surface for tens of millions of years.

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