ESA’s Mars Express used radar signals to estimate what is underneath the Mars’ south pole. Accordingly, the probe found the evidence of underground liquid water on Mars, igniting the theories about extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet. According to the radar data, beneath the south pole of Mars, there is an underground 20-kilometer-wide lake with liquid water.
The European Space Agency, helped by several other space agencies, as well as industrial companies and scientific community, launched the Mars Express mission in 2003 to orbit the Red Planet and examine it.
“Twenty-nine dedicated observations were made between 2012 and 2015 in the Planum Australe region at the south pole using the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument, MARSIS. A new mode of operations established in this period enabled a higher quality of data to be retrieved than earlier in the mission,” stated the ESA.
ESA found liquid water on Mars, raising hopes for the existence of extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet
It was already established that Mars housed vast networks of rivers, lakes, and oceans, given the discoveries of dried-put valleys and former river channels made by the orbiters and rovers deployed by ESA and NASA, during the time.
Additionally, “orbiters, together with the landers and rovers exploring the Martian surface, also discovered minerals that can only form in the presence of liquid water,” ESA said. Also, the researchers long-suspected that there is liquid water underneath the Mars’ south pole, but, until now, no one could find irrefutable evidence in this regard.
“The presence of liquid water at the base of the polar ice caps has long been suspected. Moreover, the presence of salts on Mars could further reduce the melting point of water and keep the water liquid even at below-freezing temperatures,” ESA scientists stated in a report.
The presence of liquid water on Mars might also indicate that there could be extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet, be it only microbial life.