Mars may be home to multiple lakes hidden from sight under the planet’s surface, according to a new study. Researchers say they’ve found evidence of three new lakes on the Red Planet, adding them to the one discovered back in 2018. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Astronomy and were made possible using data from the ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft.
Though scientists have largely believed that Mars may have water hiding beneath its surface, it has only been in the past couple of years that science has seemingly confirmed the speculation. Thus enters the latest study, which reports the discovery of three hidden lakes surrounding the main one reported back in 2018. The findings address skepticism over whether that original report was accurate.
Unlike that 2018 study, which reported the probable lake’s existence based on data from 29 observations, this latest study cites a larger 134 observations as the basis for the discovery. In addition to finding the three new lakes, the researchers say that they’ve also confirmed the existence of the main subsurface lake reported a couple of years ago.
The researchers used radar data observations from the Mars Express spacecraft from 2012 to 2019. Study co-author and planetary scientist Elena Pettinelli explained that the lakes are ‘a complex system.’ Based on the radar data, the liquid water is located more than half a mile under ice on the Martian surface, making it invisible to the naked eye.
Though they’re part of the same system, the lakes aren’t small — the study found that combined, these bodies of water are spread across an area that’s around 1/5th the size of Germany. The biggest lake, which is located in the center of the system, measures more than 18.6-miles across. The other three smaller lakes are only around a couple of miles wide each.