Frozen lake found on Mars

A British space scientist has discovered a giant underground lake on Mars, he said yesterday – and it could contain life.
Dr John Murray found an area bigger than the North Sea near the Martian equator with features closely resembling ice packs.
Dr Murray, of the Open University, said the lake is around five million years old which is very young in cosmic terms.
He made the discovery by examining photos taken by Europe’s Mars Express probe in orbit around the Red Planet. One Mars Express image of the region, the southern Elysium Planitia, is shown here.
Dr Murray told a national meeting of astronomers in Leicester that it suggested that liquid water still lies just under Mars’ surface.
The water flooded out to form the lake which instantly froze. Ice floes, fractures, ridges and other features closely resembled similar features in frozen regions such as Antarctica.
Microbes had been found to survive in permafrost on Earth – raising the possibility that it could also exist on Mars.
Dr Murray also revealed that the larger of Mars’s two moons, Phobos, is spiralling in towards the planet and will crash into it, creating a giant crater, in 40 million years time.
He said grooves found to criss-cross Phobos were caused by material thrown out by an asteroid hitting Mars 3,300 million years ago.
Their position suggested Phobos, which is 17 miles wide, was further away from the planet at that time, allowing him to work out when it will hit Mars.

© Paul Sutherland. Unauthorised reproduction forbidden.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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