Mars may have a lake of liquid water | Science News

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Mars (probably) has a lake of liquid water

A lake beneath the Red Planet’s southern ice sheets may be the best place to find life

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10:00am, July 25, 2018
Mars' southern polar ice sheets

WHAT LIES BENEATH  There may be a 20-kilometer-wide lake hidden under Mars’ southern polar ice sheets, shown here in images from NASA’s Mars Orbiter Camera on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.

A Mars orbiter has detected a wide lake of liquid water hidden below the planet’s southern ice sheets. There have been much-debated hints of tiny, ephemeral amounts of water on Mars before. But if confirmed, this lake marks the first discovery of a long-lasting cache of the liquid.

“This is potentially a really big deal,” says planetary scientist Briony Horgan of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. “It’s another type of habitat in which life could be living on Mars today.”

The lake is about 20 kilometers across, planetary scientist Roberto Orosei of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Bologna, Italy and his colleagues report online July 25 in Science — but the water is buried beneath 1.5 kilometers of solid ice.

Orosei and colleagues spotted the lake by combining more than three years of observations from the

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