26 FEBBRAIO 2019 ore 15:00

Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars

Dr. Roberto Orosei (INAF - Istituto di Radioastronomia, Italia)
Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars

Image credits: Davide Coero Borga

The presence of liquid water at the base of the Martian polar caps has long been suspected but not observed. We surveyed the Planum Australe region using the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding, a low-frequency radar on the Mars Express spacecraft. Radar profiles collected between May 2012 and December 2015, contain evidence of liquid water trapped below the ice of the South Polar Layered Deposits. Anomalously bright subsurface reflections were found within a well-defined, 20km wide zone centered at 193°E, 81°S, surrounded by much less reflective areas. Quantitative analysis of the radar signals shows that this bright feature has high dielectric permittivity >15, matching water-bearing materials. We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars.