A lake beneath the Red Planet’s southern ice sheets may be the best place to find life
Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio Mars Orbiter Camera data/NASA
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