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  • we literally stopped the presses, or at least the video equivalent to make this episode because today Wednesday, July 25th a team of scientists in Italy published a paper in the journal Science announcing they found a whole lake of liquid water underneath Mars's surface, not some tiny trickling streams or frozen polar ice caps.

  • We're talking a 20 kilometer wide, super salty liquid late that's just a little bit smaller than Flathead Lake in Montana, where were based.

  • So it's really big.

  • And that's way more water than we've ever seen evidence for on Mars unless you count water that's been gone for the last few 1,000,000,000 years.

  • But once we're done celebrating, the next steps to studying it are going to be a little tricky.

  • We know Mars was a watery planet billions of years ago, but these days that water is mostly floating in the atmosphere or frozen in ice.

  • We haven't been able to find a conclusive source of liquid water anywhere.

  • Closest we've gotten wasn't 2015 when scientists drop the news that streaks on the planet's surface, called recurring slope linear, might contain salty liquid water.

  • But since then, other papers have suggested those streams might just be sand instead.

  • This time, no things seem different.

  • From May 2012 to December 2015 this team of researchers studied a region on Mars is South Pole, about 200 kilometers wide.

  • They used an instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter called Marcis, which has been studying the planet since 2005.

  • To do that, Marcie's uses radar sending out radio waves that bounce off the planet surface.

  • Based on the sorts of radar, reflections or echoes that return, scientists can get an idea of what's on the ground and underneath it the region the seams surveyed isn't super remarkable at first glance, and the echoes confirmed, it's mostly made of stuff like volcanic rock.

  • Except for a patch about 20 kilometers wide there, about 1.5 kilometers under the surface, the echoes Marcie's picked up were weirdly bright.

  • Such strong signals usually only appear in areas where liquid water meets rock and on earth we see them in places like Greenland, where there's water under sheets of ice.

  • After doing a follow up analysis, the team concluded, these signals are probably exactly what they look like a subsurface liquid water.

  • Lee Now Mars Express has been studying this planet for almost 15 years, so it might seem weird that we've just figured this out like we're pretty confident about subsurface oceans on Europa, but we didn't realize our next our planet had a lake, But it makes more sense.

  • Once you look at how our knowledge of Mars has grown, this actually isn't the first time we've seen strange echoes in this part of Mars is South Pole.

  • In 2007 another team using Marcis so basically the same thing.

  • They even admitted the signal kind of looked like liquid water.

  • Except since Mars is, polls are way below freezing.

  • They thought that was really unlikely.

  • But today we know what's more reasonable.

  • In the last 10 years, researchers have discovered a class of salt on Mars called perk Lorries that can dramatically lower the freezing point of water.

  • Depending on the exact compound, they can lower it from zero degrees Celsius all the way to negative 75.

  • And the temperature in that region of Mars is on Lee.

  • About negative 68 degrees.

  • It don't get out your scuba gear just yet.

  • Liquid water under the ice doesn't necessarily mean it's like a lake on Earth.

  • It could be a runny group of water saturated sediments, which honestly, sounds kind of awesome.

  • I mean, it's a lake on Mars, and according to the team, there could be more of them.

  • The radar measurements don't have great resolution, so there could be smaller patches ofwater we just can't see.

  • There's always a chance something else is going on.

  • But none of the other hypotheses the researchers looked into have panned out.

  • For example, they pointed out that subsurface carbon dioxide ice could also cause weird radar echoes that there's no evidence for it in the specific region where they think this like, is to confirm they check their measurements against regions where there is confirmed Seo to ice underground and the signals were different.

  • Another possibility was that the region could be made of super cold, extra pure water ice.

  • But turns out it's the wrong density for that.

  • Of course, what would really close the case is a sample from underneath the ice, but we're unlikely to get that anytime stand to keep us from spreading Earth microbes around the universe and potentially contaminating sources of Alien life spacecraft designed to study water could only have 30 microbial spores on them, according to NASA's planetary protection laws.

  • We are capable of building instruments that clean, but it's an expensive process.

  • More realistic.

  • Next step might be to build another radar equipped orbiter, one even more sensitive than Marcis toe Look for cracks in the ice.

  • When we reached out to Milton Renault, an astrobiologist of the University of Michigan, he suggested that studying these cracks could be a way to look for evidence of life without having to take samples ourselves.

  • It's like how we're able to study a subsurface lake in Antarctica by observing a crack in the glacier known as Blood Falls, Ah lake that, for the record, is also pretty cold and salty but contains life.

  • A more sophisticated orbiter could also look for smaller bodies of subsurface water or the connections running between them.

  • If there was a 20 kilometer wide lake we didn't know about, chances are there's still a lot more to discover.

  • If you'd like to learn more about whether or not life could exist in that briny cold lake and what this means for astrobiology, we did a whole separate episode about it over on the main sideshow channel with Hank.

  • And thanks for watching this special episode of social space news and thinks especially toward Patri on patrons who make this show and everything we do possible.

we literally stopped the presses, or at least the video equivalent to make this episode because today Wednesday, July 25th a team of scientists in Italy published a paper in the journal Science announcing they found a whole lake of liquid water underneath Mars's surface, not some tiny trickling streams or frozen polar ice caps.

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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