Researchers may be one step closer to finding evidence of life on Mars.
Up until now, finding an existing body of water on the planet has been largely unsuccessful. Researchers have just been probing in the dark, trying and failing to locate a wet spot like an inexperienced tenth grader.
“You’ve never done this before, have you…”
Meanwhile, researchers have been telling their friends they totally nailed it. We’ve all been hearing about “water on Mars” for years. But those were just streaks in dirt pointing to evidence that water used to be there. This new discovery might be the real deal: an actual existing body of water. We’re talking splashing and ripples and pruney toesies, boys. The real fucking McCoy.
The suspected body of water spans 20km and sits just beneath the planet’s south polar ice cap (pictured above). They found it with a radar instrument called Marsis, which sends out radar signals and examines what bounces back. This time, it actually found something cool for once.
… OK so still pretty boring.
But Professor Roberto Orosei from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics insists it is cool.
“In light blue you can see where the reflections from the bottom are stronger than surface reflection. This is something that is to us the tell tale sign of the presence of water,” says Prof Orosei. “This really qualifies this as a body of water. A lake, not some kind of meltwater filling some space between rock and ice, as happens in certain glaciers on Earth.”
So what about the real reason any of us give a fuck… aliens?
“We are not closer to actually detecting life,” said Dr. Manish Patel, a member of the Open University and a genuinely terrible hype man. “But what this finding does is give us the location of where to look on Mars. It is like a treasure map – except in this case, there will be lots of ‘X’s marking the spots.”
OK we’re not actually closer to detecting life yet, but we might be. The existence of martians within the water — if it even is water — will depend on the temperature. In this case, they estimate the liquid will be between -10 and -30 degrees Celsius, which would likely be too cold to sustain life.
Even if there is life teeming beneath the surface, it’s probably not gonna be the kind we’re all hoping for, which is some sort of Atlantis populated by busty alien mermaids who are super into bloggers. It’s gonna be lame ass micro-bacterias and shit.
Either way, we’re a ways off from knowing what’s actually hiding there. Scientists need to fly out a drilling robot capable of cracking through the 1.5 km of ice above the water pocket, and they don’t have the technology to do that yet.
You know if they can’t pull it off in a sci-fi action movie, they definitely can’t pull it off in real life.
Nevertheless, this is still some pretty exciting stuff, and while the mysteries of this particular spot may remain unsolved for some time, the discovery is a major victory in the pursuit of extraterrestrial life on Mars and beyond.
“What needs to be done now,” explained Dr Matt Balme from the Open University, “is for the measurements to be repeated elsewhere to look for similar signals, and, if possible, for all other explanation to be examined and – hopefully – ruled out.”
h/t Lad Bible