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A 11 member Italian team has discovered  a 20-km lake ,a kilometre and a half under the southern polar ice cap of Mars .

Martian salts

The atmospheric pressure on the Martian surface is almost a hundred times less than on Earth, ensuring that water will not be in liquid form, but rather, as ice or vapour.

It is possible the water is mixed with other compounds including salt, which reduces the temperature and helps it retain liquid form. 

Mission technology

While this isn’t the first time water has been found on Mars – evidence of lakes, rivers, and deltas had been reported by the Viking Mission Orbiter 40 years ago, and findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter last year provided evidence of intermittent flows of liquid water on present-day Mars, yet  the discovery of the underground lake is still important.

The Italian researchers surveyed the Planum Australe region, or the southern polar plains of Mars, using the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) instrument, a low-frequency radar on board the European Space Agency’s Mars Express Orbiter. However, MARSIS could not detect the composition of the water,There was no technology yet to investigate the discovery.

Humans on Mars

This  discovery was “very significant” because of its implications for human exploration of Mars.

India’s MOM, launched in November 2013, has been in orbit around the planet since September 24, 2014, and has picked up its surface features.

Water is important for the journey to Mars and its colonisation.

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