Four Buried Lakes on Mars

Researchers have confirmed the presence of a lake discovered two years ago and found three more lakes.

Radar data from the European Space Agency Mars Express was analyzed to reveal the lakes. The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) sent radio waves that bounce off layers of material in the planet’s surface and subsurface. Areas of high reflectivity indicate bodies of liquid water trapped under more than one kilometer of Martian ice.

The lakes are spread over about 75,000 square kilometers — an area roughly one-fifth the size of Germany. The largest, central lake measures 30 kilometers across and is surrounded by 3 smaller lakes. Each of the smaller lakes is a few kilometers wide.

Earth lakes with salt content about 5 times that of sea-water can support life. There is no life in earth water when salt concentration approaches 20 times that of sea-water.

Other scientists are not convinced that the highly reflective radar readings are liquid lakes. More observations will be needed to get more agreement.

SOURCES- Nature Astronomy
Written By Brian Wang,

30 thoughts on “Four Buried Lakes on Mars”

  1. Yes, I don't dispute that sentient life exists here on Earth (although as you point out – at what level is debatable) . But that doesn't present itself as evidence that it's evolved somewhere else. The evolution of life does appear to be simple given the right conditions (all the millions of species here on Earth are evidence of that). But, the evolution of sentient life has only ever happened once. That is very telling. Millions of species vs 1 sentient species (hominids) in 2B years of evolution. It's extremely strong evidence that sentient evolution is rare. The question is how rare. Until we determine why sentience evolved we won't know the answer. I do think it's also telling that we haven't been able to determine why we evolved it. That appears to me as more evidence that sentient life is even rarer. Perhaps on the scale of 1 sentient species per galaxy.

  2. I don't see evidence that time is the main factor in the evolution of sentience. Instead I think the question is what combination of climate and evolutionary pressure caused our hominid ancestors to become sentient? It happened perhaps 1-2 million years ago but no one knows why. And why did it occur in hominids? I have to go back to my original point – that our evolution was was extremely unlikely. Perhaps in the area of a 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000 (quintilion) chance. If so, then considering the number of planets in the Milky Way (400 billion) the chances of a sentient species evolving in our galaxy are extremely low.

  3. Well, except for the fact that we'll be pumping up to the surface the water it lives in.

    Being related to us is likely, and boring. NOT being related to us is unlikely, but would be very, very exciting.

    If life is found on Mars, I expect the primary effect on us to be political.

  4. So, if liquid, would an underground lake be a good place to put a city in? Stable temperature, plenty of water, minimal digging? Of course, have to keep the water from coming in, rather than the air from going out.

    If ice, same question, but I presume we would have to shore things up where we removed ice, and we might not be quite as concerned about water coming in as air going out.

  5. Fortunately, anything surviving on Mars is 1) Probably related to us way back when somewhere and, 2) Lives so deep underground it won't have much concern about anything we are doing up on the surface.

  6. The presence of water increases the likelihood of microbial life on Mars or below its surface. It is believed that four billion years ago Mars was warm and humid, but eventually turned into a desert world due to the disappearance of the magnetic field. The high concentration of salt probably keeps the water from freezing. But it is unknown how salty water is and if any microbial life could possible live there.

  7. "I would offer that there is a strong possibility that we haven't found sentient life in the cosmos because it doesn't exist."

    Of course, judging from some of the people on this planet, that might seem a possibility, but if you can ask the question, then the fact is, sentient life exists… and I doubt we're the only ones.

  8. We have no statistics on evolution outside of Earth. Our path may have been exceptionally fast, or it could have been exceptionally slow (or right next to average).

    But to me it doesn't seem unlikely to happen elsewhere. There have indeed been some slow and some difficult steps, but OTOH, many steps happened more than once here on Earth: cellular endosymbiosis, multicellularity, eyes, opposable digits, lower intelligence, and others. Other steps have a very strong evolutionary advantage. For example, water based photosynthesis (which produces oxygen, which is apparently required for some of the other steps). Water is much more difficult to use for photosynthesis than other electron sources, but it is much much more abundant. HUGE advantage for whichever bacteria that figures it out.

    So these steps seem likely to happen elsewhere, if given enough time. But as I said, we don't know how much time is needed on average.

  9. Indeed! Making a profit doing something useful in Space, esp if it helps Earth by solving global heating as Space Solar WILL, following O'Neill plan, beats spending money, taxpayer or profit from Tesla/Starlink, on a clearly bad plan, moving from one planet to a harder one.

  10. You don't have to convince me that we need huge space habitats as well as whatever other colonies and off-world homes we can build. But right now Mars has captured the public imagination in a way that Space stations haven't. Mars has caught Elon's eye – and it doesn't have to be as binary as either a fully terraformed Mars or going Spacer. We just need spaceX to see the gold in them thar hills (and platinum and rare earth's in a decent asteroid) and the Spacers will be born as well as the Belters and Martians. Then with an Epstein drive – we'll be set for whatever comes next.

  11. We can rule out terraforming Mars now. It is a planet, as is Earth, which means it is not the right place to live. We need to do nothing with Mars, even think about it, to move into our future in the stars, in Space. And waiting to do stuff about Mars before starting into O'Neill Space is already over forty years stupid!

  12. But as the National Geographic Mars series showed – it might take humans on Mars to actually find microbial life there to rule out terraforming it. Catch 22.

  13. There are billions of planets in the Milky Way. If there is life on Mars there are still plenty of lifeless planets for you to exploit. I'd rather an excess of conservation, than an excess of exploitation. And you'd better hope a more advanced species doesn't show up in Earth orbit bearing your attitude. I can here their broadcast now, "Yo humans, justify your position. If you don't make a good case, we're gonna terraform your insignificant species out of existence."

  14. I would offer that there is a strong possibility that we haven't found sentient life in the cosmos because it doesn't exist. When one looks at the evolution of humans the impression is that our evolution was improbable. Life existed on Earth for two billion years before sentience came along. Even if you count from the evolution of land based life, it's still hundreds of millions of years till homo sapiens emerged. If the evolution of sentient life was common then one would think that it would have happened long before that.

    Then when you consider if it wasn't for the comet/meteorite that wiped out the dinos our mouse like ancestors might still be living nocturnally. And then there's the big question, what happened in the last couple million years that caused hominids to achieve sentience? One is left with the notion that we hit the Lotto not once, but multiple times during the evolutionary path to sentience. The odds of that are in the quintillions.

    My guess is that there is life out there, perhaps even planets teeming with it. But most likely none of it is close to using fire.

  15. "If life is common that makes it more likely the Fermi Paradox is explained by life frequently getting wiped out before going interstellar."

    I'd say you just lack imagination.

    There are a multitude of viable answers to the Fermi Paradox other than the misanthropic 'Great Filter' theory.

    The #1 answer to why we don't see life when we look out to into the night sky is that we're dumb monkeys who don't fully understand what we're looking for or looking at, so we pass by tell-tale signs as just noise.

    Heck, SETI is so human-centric it's concluded aliens must use electromagnetic radiation for long distance communications just like us, and then people wonder why we don't find 'us' in the night sky.

  16. Indeed. Soon we'll be doing lots of stuff, and NASA will mostly be piggybacking on commercial activities. It will be wonderful once the government stops being in the driver's seat.

  17. Life doesn't have to justify itself to anyone. Going in and wiping it out Martian life would be a supreme act of stupidity and a crime against science.

  18. Any life would benefit from earthling tourists showing up and making Mars warmer and providing an atmosphere.

  19. Agreed. Nothing is sacred. All things must reasonably justify their existence with the default being 'no touch'. But upon first interest in contacting, exploring, inhabiting, exploiting, altering, terraforming… each side should be subject to a clock to gather data to justify their position. Excess conservation is sentimentality – the foe of all rational discourse.

  20. No rovers on Moon yet, I suggest we do more than Mars, I suggest we leave Mars alone until life is ruled out. I suggest we make money in Space. O'Neill. Yes, more than one thing.

  21. I've mentioned this a while back, but it's worth reminding:

    There were at least two instances on Earth where bacteria were incorporated into other cells. Once to form mitochondria (eukaryotes), and again to form chloroplasts (plants). There were also multiple separate instances of multicellularity evolving, so neither of these steps is likely to be the Great Filter.

    It seems the limiting step on Earth was evolution of oxygen-generating photosynthesis (which requires using water, which is difficult; simpler forms of photosynthesis are easier, but don't produce oxygen). Once that happened, eukaryotes emerged fairly soon after; and once the oxygen accumulated to a high enough level, complex life appeared even faster (Cambrian Explosion).

  22. They are not even looking for life. Last mission to do this was Viking and it was an embarrassment. Zones with probable conditions for life are off limits for Mars missions. It won't be surprising if they already contaminated the planet anyway, because proper sterilization of the machines is hard – it is even like a selection for the most tough microorganisms to travel on board.

    I say we should go for the Moon first. It much, much easier and safer, and the conditions are not that worse than Mars. I mean, if you manage on the Moon, you certainly will manage on Mars and even Ceres. The Moon is so good for developing space colonization capabilities, that it almost looks like if somebody preinstalled it for this purpose. In the meantime they should continue robotic exploration of Mars, and if we find life there, a cheer will follow and then extinction.

  23. There are a number of options for "the great filter".
    Many of them are steps we've already passed, such as prokaryotes -> eukaryotes.

    Of course, the more advanced life we find out there, the more likely the filter is ahead of us.

  24. I hope life isn't found because it's better if life is rare. If life is common that makes it more likely the Fermi Paradox is explained by life frequently getting wiped out before going interstellar. Robin Hanson described this as the Great Filter.

    However Mars is not that great for serious exploitation anyway. The moon is better.

  25. I notice some people are hoping like heck for life to be discovered, and provide an excuse for turning Mars into a planetary museum exhibit nobody is ever permitted to exploit. 

    I'm really conflicted here: Life on another planet would be cool, and likely add a lot to our knowledged, but the watermelons would go nuts.

  26. Bridenstein said today that NASA priority was the industrialization of Space, and a new commercial habitat in LEO to expand or replace ISS with economic production facilities. Where could we get the money for that? We could cancel SLS, perhaps. Don't mess with Mars.

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