New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars
28 October 2022
New data has been uncovered by an international team of researchers that suggests there may be liquid water beneath Mars’ south polar ice cap.
The findings, which were published in the journal Nature Astronomy, offer the first line of independent proof that there is liquid water beneath Mars’ south pole using the information other than radar.
To find minor patterns in the height of the ice cap, the team of researchers, led by the University of Cambridge with participation from the University of Sheffield, employed laser-altimeter measurements of the contour of the upper surface of the ice cap.
After that, they demonstrated how these patterns corresponded to computer estimates of the effects that a body of water beneath the ice cap would have on the surface.
On Mars, subterranean water ice is depicted on this map in a rainbow of colors. Warm hues indicate depths of more than two feet (60 cm), whereas cool colors indicate depths of less than one foot (30 centimeters).
Their findings are in line with prior readings made using an ice-penetrating radar, which was initially thought to indicate the possibility of liquid water beneath the ice.
There is disagreement over the interpretation of liquid water based solely on radar data, with some researchers arguing that the radar signal is not caused by liquid water.
Because two of the most important pieces of evidence that we would look for when looking for sub-glacial lakes on Earth have already been discovered on Mars, this study provides the strongest argument yet that there is liquid water on Mars today.
However, the presence of liquid water does not prove that life is present on Mars, according to Butcher.
The satellite contains a MARSIS ice-penetrating radar that can see through the southern ice cap of Mars. It showed a region at the bottom of the ice that significantly reflected the radar signal, which was taken to mean that there was liquid water there beneath the ice cap.
However, later research claimed that other dry substances that are present elsewhere on Mars might also reflect light in a similar manner if they are present beneath the ice cap. On Earth, subglacial lakes have an impact on the surface topography of the ice sheet that lies above them. Ice flow under gravity is influenced by the water in subglacial lakes because it reduces friction between the ice sheet and its bed.