Scientists Confused by All the Water They're Finding on Mars

NASA scientists say much more liquid water may lie beneath the south pole of Mars than previously thought — or there may be something going on inside Mars that they don't fully understand.

    2021/07/07

NSFW    WASHINGTON — A new research paper has found more radar data suggesting the presence of huge lakes under the surface of Mars.

However, the new data is problematic, as it shows many of these so-called lakes are in areas too cold for water to remain liquid, and ice does not reflect radar like liquids do. Here are the details:

In a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, NASA scientists say much more liquid water may lie beneath the south pole of Mars than scientists had thought — or there may be something going on inside Mars that they don't fully understand.

In 2018, researchers found radar evidence of a big subsurface lake under the planet's south pole.

They later found evidence for three more underground lakes in that area. Now, a different NASA team has taken a very deep dive into the same probe's radar data.

The team found dozens of radar reflections similar to the four that had been interpreted as buried lakes.

But many of the newfound signals were spotted relatively close to the surface, in places seemingly too cold to support liquid water.

The new study's researchers say they're not certain whether these signals are liquid water or not, but they appear to be much more widespread than what the original study found.

They say that, either liquid water is common underneath Mars' south pole, or the signals are indicating something else.

The researchers based their findings on a deep dive into the same data set provided by the MARSIS probe that the original study used in 2018.

They say they can't explain what exactly the newly found MARSIS reflections mean. However, they hope their results will not remain mysterious for long.

In the paper, the researchers said: "Our mapping gets us a few steps closer to understanding both the extent and the cause of these puzzling radar reflections."
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