Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars
Authors: R. Orosei ; S. E. Lauro ; E. Pettinelli ; ...Enrico Flamini ; et al.
Aug - 2018

journal : Science

Volume : 361 ; Issue : 6401
type: Article Journal

The presence of liquid water at the base of the martian polar caps has long been suspected but not observed. We surveyed the Planum Australe region using the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) instrument, a low-frequency radar on the Mars Express spacecraft. Radar profiles collected between May 2012 and December 2015 contain evidence of liquid water trapped below the ice of the South Polar Layered Deposits. Anomalously bright subsurface reflections are evident within a well-defined, 20-kilometer-wide zone centered at 193°E, 81°S, which is surrounded by much less reflective areas. Quantitative analysis of the radar signals shows that this bright feature has high relative dielectric permittivity (>15), matching that of water-bearing materials. We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars.

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Notes : Research funded by Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (I/032/12/1)