Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars

UK Centre for Astrobiology seminar

Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars

  • Event time: 1:30pm
  • Event date: 16th April 2019
  • Speaker: Roberto Orosei (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica)

Event details

The presence of liquid water at the base of the Martian polar caps has long been suspected but not observed. We surveyed the Planum Australe region using the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding, a low-frequency radar on the Mars Express spacecraft. Radar profiles collected between May 2012 and December 2015, contain evidence of liquid water trapped below the ice of the South Polar Layered Deposits. Anomalously bright subsurface reflections were found within a well-defined, 20km wide zone centered at 193°E, 81°S, surrounded by much less reflective areas. Quantitative analysis of the radar signals shows that this bright feature has high dielectric permittivity >15, matching water-bearing materials. We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars.

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The astrobiology seminar series is run by the UK Centre for Astrobiology based in the School of Physics & Astronomy. Astrobiology is a multi-disciplinary subject and the seminar series actively encourages attendance by undergraduates, postgraduates and academic staff from other departments..

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