Multiple Subglacial Water Bodies Below The South Pole Of Mars Unveiled By New MARSIS Data

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 5, 2020
Filed under
Multiple Subglacial Water Bodies Below The South Pole Of Mars Unveiled By New MARSIS Data
Relative dielectric permittivity map computed by inverting the radar data considering all regions where the number of samples is larger than 100. The map only shows the permittivity values retrieved from radar data having acuity values larger than 0.5 (Methods). This procedure has reduced the dimension of the study area to 90x120 km2 . Values larger than 15 suggest the presence of liquid water.

The detection of liquid water by the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) at the base of the south polar layered deposits in Ultimi Scopuli has reinvigorated the debate about the origin and stability of liquid water under present-day Martian conditions.

To establish the extent of subglacial water in this region, we acquired new data, achieving extended radar coverage over the study area. Here, we present and discuss the results obtained by a new method of analysis of the complete MARSIS dataset, based on signal processing procedures usually applied to terrestrial polar ice sheets.

Our results strengthen the claim of the detection of a liquid water body at Ultimi Scopuli and indicate the presence of other wet areas nearby. We suggest that the waters are hypersaline perchlorate brines, known to form at Martian polar regions and thought to survive for an extended period of time on a geological scale at below-eutectic temperatures.

Sebastian Emanuel Lauro, Elena Pettinelli, Graziella Caprarelli, Luca Guallini, Angelo Pio Rossi, Elisabetta Mattei, Barbara Cosciotti, Andrea Cicchetti, Francesco Soldovieri, Marco Cartacci, Federico Di Paolo, Raffaella Noschese, Roberto Orosei

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph)
DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1200-6
Cite as: arXiv:2010.00870 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2010.00870v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Sebastian Emanuel Lauro
[v1] Fri, 2 Oct 2020 08:56:22 UTC (1,178 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻