Australian experts have applauded the find, saying the discovery of liquid and frozen water resources is key due to their ability to produce fuel and provide life support for astronauts during deep space missions, allowing lower cost launches and space operations.
The device that can be credited for the new discovery of the liquid lake on the red planet is called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument (MARSIS) and was held on the orbiter known as the Mars Express, which was deployed by the European Space Agency. The study says it could be an underground pool or just a layer of sludge. Water is considered a fundamental ingredient for life. And, just like the subglacial lakes here on Earth, it is certainly feasible that life may also be found in the one just discovered on the red planet.
"Discovery of a large water supply on Mars confirms we're heading in the right direction". In 2020, the European Space Agency plans to send a rover to Mars that will search for more evidence of the presence of water or life.
"This is the place on Mars where you have something that most resembles a habitat, a place where life could subsist", said planetary scientist Roberto Orosei of Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Italy, who led the research published in the journal Science.
"We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars".
Billions of years ago, Mars is thought to have had oceans and rivers, much like Earth.
But because of the thin atmosphere and the cooling of the planet, most of its water is locked up in ice.
The concentration of salts needed to keep the water liquid could be fatal for any microbial life similar to Earth's, which means caution needs to be taken, with no immediate means of sampling the water.
On Earth, one group of organisms known as "halophiles" thrive in highly salty conditions such as those found in the Dead Sea and Utah's Great Salt Lake.
According to the BBC, the research team estimates that this area is between -10 and -30 degrees celsius, far below the regular freezing temperature for water. "We had to conclude that there is water on Mars today".
"We don't see the same reflector with SHARAD, not even when we recently summed together [thousands] of observations to create CATSCAN-like 3-D views of both polar caps", Nathaniel Putzig, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter SHARAD deputy team leader and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, said in an email.
Scientists elsewhere tried to assess what the finding might mean about the possibility of life on Mars.
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