By Karin Valentine

Express orbiters have recently published results suggesting that what were thought to be subsurface lakes on Mars may not really be lakes at all.

In 2018, scientists working with data from the Mars Express orbiter announced a surprising discovery: Signals from a radar instrument reflected off the red planet’s south pole appeared to reveal a liquid subsurface lake. Several more such reflections have been announced since then.

In a new paper published in the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters, lead author and graduate student Aditya Khuller of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration with Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), describe finding dozens of similar radar reflections around the south pole after analyzing a broader set of Mars Express data. But many are in areas that should be too cold for water to remain liquid.

Image Text: The bright white region of this image shows the icy cap that covers Mars’ south pole, composed of frozen water and frozen carbon dioxide.
Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/Bill Dunford

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