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    Mars: NASA identifies dozens of underground “lakes” | Geek's Journal


    After a first in 2018, dozens of new “lakes” have been identified under the South Pole of Mars. It remains to be seen whether it is indeed water, and whether it is liquid or not … and if not, to identify what it is.

    NASA recently made a very exciting announcement in a press release: Researchers scanning the basements of Mars have found what looks a lot like dozens of underground lakes! Nothing says that we will find life or even liquid water there, but what is certain is that they will be able to teach us a lot about the climatic dynamics of the Red Planet.

    It all started with the discovery of stratified deposits at the planet's South Pole. They constitute a sort of timeless capsule. Materials millions of years old have accumulated there, each floor preserving the previous one. Analyzing these successive layers of dust, water ice and frozen carbon dioxide, conceptually comes down to go back in time. These geological formations are therefore a real blessing for geologists, exobiologists and all scientists working to unravel the mysteries of Mars. Except that to unearth this treasure, a vulgar shovel is not enough!

    Radio treasure hunt

    However, going to probe this area is not easy; it is certainly not Perseverance that will be able to take samples tens or even hundreds of meters deep. To do this, NASA bombard the radio wave area, able to make their way through these layers accumulated at the pole. When reflected from a surface, it can return to its source; we can therefore analyze the return signal to find out which surface has been touched.

    Anomalies identified under the South Pole, represented by colored dots. Is it water, and is it liquid? © ESA / NASA / JPL-Caltech

    Normally, this signal is only partially reflected. But in 2018, NASA researchers observed a curious anomaly. In some cases, the signals returning from the depths were paradoxically much more powerful than those from the surface. Perhaps the researchers took their desires for realities; but they deduced from it the presence of liquid water in the basement, because this one strongly reflects the radio waves. The recent study, which found many other such abnormalities, is not so categorical.

    Will sink or not?

    The potential “lakes” are distributed at very variable depths, including in areas below -60 ° C. At this temperature, the water would have a hard time staying liquid. And this even if it contained substances that lower the freezing point. And apparently the geothermal flow wouldn't be of much help either. In 2019, a research team modeled these heat movements. And according to their findings, on a large scale, these are largely insufficient to allow water to exist in a liquid state. If there is any in the subsoil of this area, it is probably very localized anomalies of the geothermal flow, or very specific geochemical conditions.

    But on the other hand, if it is not liquid water, how to explain these characteristic anomalies? What material or structure could they correspond to? The mystery remains unsolved. Either way, having mapped many other examples of this phenomenon in this way will undoubtedly help identify it. All that remains is to redouble your ingenuity to find a technical way to open these real chests with so promising scientific treasures!


    Source: Journal du Geek by www.journaldugeek.com.

    The article has been translated based on the content of Journal du Geek by www.journaldugeek.com.

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