Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Follow the water... to MARS!

Photo of the Martian surface via NASA/JPL.

"Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars

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."

- From a paper published in the journal, Science, today by a team of Italian scientists from the National Institute of Astrophysics in Bologna (website).

"Our mantra back then was 'follow the water.' That was the one phrase that captured everything," Hubbard said. "So this discovery, if it stands, is just thrilling because it's the culmination of that philosophy."
...To find the water, Italian researchers analyzed radar signals collected over three years by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft. Their results suggest that a 12-mile-wide (20 kilometers) reservoir lies below ice about a mile (1.5 kilometers) thick in an area close to the planet's south pole.
They spent at least two years examining the data to make sure they'd detected water, not ice or another substance.
'I really have no other explanation,' said astrophysicist Roberto Orosei of Italy's National Institute of Astrophysics in Bologna and lead author of the study."

- Excerpt from the AP article: Water Is Buried Beneath Martian Landscape, Study Says.


Scientific evidence for a lake beneath a polar ice cap on Mars? Is it just another tease?

Well, no... I don't think so.  But, as per usual, "some scientists are skeptical."  


Ah well, you can't please everybody... but, the Martians among us say: Hooray! It's about time!

More news articles:


And, just for the record, an excerpt from a 2010 post about a dream...

"In my dream, Mac and I were technicians in what seemed to be an underground bio-lab. As neither of us, in reality, are or were "biologists", this might seems strange, but in the dream it seemed perfectly normal.

That this bio-lab happened to be on Mars was, in the dream, also elementary.

What piqued my interest in the dream was that this underground bio-lab on Mars also was situated in an underground body of water. One literally had to swim under the surface - in a peculiar way; a sort of inverse sensation to that in a levitation dream, if you've ever experienced one - to gain entrance. On the other hand, there seemed to exist a terrestrial entrance to the lab as well but it was off-limits as it seems there was some threat posed by either antagonistic humans or, possibly, an indigenous population. The lab itself, however, seemed to be an international endeavor with a variety of races and nationalities involved."

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