Mars shocker: Liquid water lake found on the Red Planet

For this study, the Italian researchers revisited that assumption and attempted to determine if pure water ice was consistent with the radar data.

Information was gathered by what's known as the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument, which was deployed on the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft, according to the agency.

Between May 2012 and December 2015, Roberto Orosei with International Astronomical Union and his Italian colleagues used MARSIS to survey a region called Planum Australe, located in the southern ice cap of Mars. Subsurface echo power is color coded and deep blue corresponds to the strongest reflections, which are interpreted as being caused by the presence of water.

It is believed that billions of years ago there may have been a plentiful supply of water on Mars, back when its atmosphere was much different than it is today, and old lake beds, river channels, and floodplains are still fully visible on the planet's surface.

This is not the first time that scientists have discovered signs of water on Mars but this is the first time that a persistent water supply has been found, which is noteworthy.

But now, hope for the potential confirmation of microbial life on Mars has been boosted significantly following the discovery of what appears to be a pool of liquid water buried beneath layers of ice at the planet's southern pole.

The area is similar to that of lakes found beneath the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets on Earth, which also were detected using radar scans.

Australian experts have applauded the find, saying the discovery of liquid and frozen water resources is key due to their ability to produce fuel and provide life support for astronauts during deep space missions, allowing lower cost launches and space operations.

The scientists expect the water is very salty, otherwise it would freeze.

Orosei said the lake's water was below freezing point but remained liquid thanks to a sizeable amount of salt.

Chevrier said he also wanted to know how old the body of water might be.

A water pond spotted beneath the surface of Mars marks a turning point in the search for life on the red planet, scientists say. After that, the discovery of a liquid lake is groundbreaking news.

"Nobody dares to propose that there could be any more complex life form", Orosei said.

Researchers have found evidence of an existing body of liquid water on Mars.

Speaking in a recorded interview released by Science, Prof Orosei revealed that his team spent years checking their results before being confident enough to announce the discovery. The announcement is likely to get scientists thinking about how to use existing instruments orbiting Mars to give this region a more careful examination.

Vanessa Coleman