Mars Express Mission: Liquid Water detected!

Liquid water in the subsurface near Mars' South Pole.
Image Credit: left - NASA/Viking, mid - NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University, right - ESA/NASA/JPL/ASI/Univ. Rome, R. Orosei et al 2018

News from Jul 26, 2018

From previous results of ESA’s Mars Express mission it is known that water ice exists at and around Mars’ poles buried in layers interspersed with dust. Now, the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument (MARSIS), the first radar sounder ever to orbit another planet, was able to confirm speculations about the existence of liquid subsurface water. Near Mars’ South Pole at a depth of about 1.5 km, radar investigations indicated a stable, some tens of centimeters thick body of salty and sediment-rich liquid water. Since on Earth some forms of microbial life thrive in subglacial environments, this discovery raises the question whether such a water body could present a suitable habitat for life on Mars. This finding emphasizes once more the scientific potential of the Mars Express mission, launched in 2003, in which the group of Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing at Freie Universität Berlin is involved with the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) experiment.