A group of Italian researchers has discovered a network of saltwater lakes under the glaciers located on the south pole of Mars and the discovery may help to rewrite the history of the red planet’s climate, helping to understand the possible existence of life forms.
Around a lake discovered in 2018, scholars located three more, described on Monday (28) in the journal “Nature Astronomy” by the same team that found the lake two years ago. They used the Marsis radar from the Italian Space Agency (ASI), which is part of the European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express mission.
The study was coordinated by researchers from Roma Tre University, Elena Pettinelli and Sebastian Emanuel Lauro, and by professor Roberto Orosei, from the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf).
“In relation to 2018, we have greatly expanded the study area and used different methods of analysis. Now, the data indicate that there is a broader water system,” explained Petinelli to ANSA. Two years ago, experts analyzed an area of 20 square kilometers and now a space of 250km by 300km has been detailed.
“The fact that we find complex hydrological structures suggests that there must be others”, points out the researcher.
For Enrico Flamini, president of the International School of Research for Planetary Sciences (IRSPS), University of Chieti-Pescara and among the authors of the 2018 mission, the discovery of that year “was only the first evidence of a much broader system of liquid water bodies in the Martian subsoil “. “It is exactly what I was hoping for: a real great result,” celebrated Flamini.
The scientific manager of the Marsis radar, Roberto Orosei, also revealed his excitement about the discovery because it “shows an entire system of lakes, which implies that its formation process has been relatively simple and common”.
“And these lakes must have existed in a large part of the history of Mars. Therefore, they could still preserve traces of eventual life forms that could evolve when Mars had a dense atmosphere, a milder climate and the presence of liquid water on the surface. , similar to Earth in the early days “, highlights Orosei.
Researchers from the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and Italian scholars working at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia and Jacobs University in Germany also participated in the discovery. .