Follow the Water


We believe that life on Earth began almost 4 billion years ago in the early oceans that covered the planet, and life has not been able to survive without water ever since. Scientists think that life, if it exists elsewhere in the universe,would probably also depend on the presence of water, and therefore the search for life in space begins by “following the water.” People suspected that water once existed on Mars millions of years ago, or may still exist in the form of icy underground glaciers, but the search for liquid water — the kind that life requires — has been unsuccessful until now. This week Mars researchers from Italy announced that they have evidence of an entire lake of liquid water hidden beneath Mars’ surface. This new lake, which is approximately 12 miles in diameter, is buried a mile deep under solid ice, and is probably full of dissolved salts that help prevent it from freezing in the cold Martian temperatures. How do they know there is water so deep beneath the surface? The evidence comes from something that may seem deceptively simple… through reflected radar signals! It turns out liquid water reflects radar signals much more readily than rocks and sediments, so the scientists observed bright spots or areas of reflections where the lake is thought to be. Although this not conclusive proof, NASA’s InSight Mars lander will arrive at the planet in November of this year, and is equipped to begin digging deeper under the surface to learn more. I can’t wait to hear what this new mission uncovers!

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July 27, 2018

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