Researchers have found water on Mars in a reservoir of salty, liquid water measuring about 12 miles across and almost a mile deep on the planets south pole. This may not be the only one of the planet and it could be the source of more information regarding life on this planet.
Over a billion years ago this planet may have been a warm planet like earth. Now the planet is a parched toxic desert and scientists are trying to figure out what happened to the water that once covered the planet. Scientists have been able to find water at times, but it seems to either disappear or seep into the planet not to be seen again. The water may be contained in the subsurface.
Since 2003 European Space Agency’s Mars Express Spacecraft has an instrument on board that can see into the Mars subsurface with an instrument called the MARSIS. The instrument can send low frequency radio waves into the planet and sends back information on the geologic structures of the planet. With this information scientists may be able to tell what is underneath the surface. In 2008 MARSIS sent back information that there might be frozen ice sheets near the south pole of the planet. The team has had the spacecraft circle the planet 29 times to get more information to work with and get a better picture of the surface. It has not been an easy job sorting through all the information that MARSIS has sent back to the spacecraft. They will be sorting through all the information over the next few years to find out what type of ice layers there are.
Not all the scientists are convinced that they have found a lake, but it may be just a deposit of muddy sediments. There is a new ground-penetrating instrument orbiting the planet that may send back the information needed to determine what it actually could be.
The scientists are hoping that finding this pocket of saltwater may help them discover the mystery of the missing oceans. They are hoping to find more bodies of water on the planet so that some day human life may be able to survive on the planet.