Water on Mars?

The red planet has raised our curiosity several times with its hidden mysteries, and this time, there is news about the possible presence of water under its south pole. Mars Express has made this discovery of finding the hidden liquid water on Mars. It has been found that there was water spread across the surface of Mars in the past, in the form of now dried out river valley networks and enormous channels for the outflow of water that have been clearly imagined by the spacecraft orbiting the planet. These satellites along with rovers and Mars landers are exploring the planet’s surface to discover minerals which are found in liquid water. 

The climatic conditions of the planet have changed in the last 4.6 billion years. Water which existed on the planet is nowhere to be found on the surface, thus the scientists have initiated a research to look for the water beneath the layers of dust present on the planet red. 

From last fifteen years, Mars Express has been looking for water on Mars and has found its traces in the form of ice on the poles. It has been suspected for quite a while that the water exists at the base of the polar ice caps. The melting point of water decreases when there is an overlying glacier since a pressure is exerted on it. The salt present on Mars further reduces the melting point of solid water present on the poles. The water thus remains in solid form as the temperature there is below the freezing point of water. MARSIS - Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding - instrument has also been deployed to orbit the planet and identify the presence of water on Mars. It is collecting high-resolution data from the surface and sub-surface of the planet to solve this mystery of water. The radar can penetrate the ground and send pulses. The time taken by these waves to get reflected back to the spacecraft helps in understanding crucial details of the planet. The strength of the ways reflected and other things help in performing surface topography. 

Till now, it has been discovered that the southern region of Mars is made of several layers of ice and dust. It is about 1.5 km in depth and 200 km in area. The results obtained on Mars resemble Lake Vostok in Antarctica. The existence of life or water alone has remained a question till date but the discovery may help us understand how the evolution of the red planet took place. This could eventually increase our understanding of the universe we have inhabited.