A group of Italian, German, and Australian researchers applied a radio-echo technique that Earth satellites use to detect subsurface lakes in Antarctica and detected a series of saltwater lakes beneath the glaciers of Mars’ southern ice cap. Elena Pettinelli, a professor of geophysics at Italy’s Roma Tre University who led the study, told media that scientists are “much more confident now” that these Martian lakes exist. Scientists think the Martian surface was once rich with rivers, lakes, and seas, but all the surface water evaporated as a flow of particles from the sun stripped away the planet’s atmosphere.
Ancient life may have retreated to underground lakes on Mars. “The discovery of an entire system of lakes instead suggests their formation process to be relatively simple and possibly common,” Pettinelli said. It is not known whether Mars ever hosted life. To investigate that question , NASA launched its nuclear-powered Mars Perseverance rover in July. It’s set to search for signs of ancient life on the red planet’s surface. It’s possible, even, that microbial life may still be thriving in those lakes.