A mirage was suspected in the subglacial “lakes” at the south pole of Mars

(ORDO NEWS) — Paleologists have found that the “subglacial lakes” discovered four years ago at the south pole of Mars were actually something like mirages that arose due to interactions between radio waves and volcanic rocks. The description of the study was published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“If liquid water were so close to the surface of the glacier, its existence would require a powerful“ point ”source of heat and an exorbitant concentration of salt. There are simply no similar conditions in this region of Mars,” said one of the authors of the study, a researcher at the University of Texas in Austin Cyril Grima.

These Martian lakes first became known in July 2018. They were told by Italian astronomers who worked with the instruments of the European probe Mars-Express. On radar images of the south pole of Mars, they saw traces of three subglacial lakes located at a depth of 1.5 km from the surface of the planet.

Subsequently, astronomers found several more similar traces on the radar images of Mars. However, many planetary scientists have doubted that these are really lakes, and have suggested that these are deposits of clay or other rocks, and not subglacial reservoirs. A new study by Grima and his colleagues may clear up scientists’ doubts.

In this work, the scientists developed an algorithm that could automatically analyze data from the Mars Express probe and mark areas on them where other bodies of water might be present. Grima and his colleagues tested the algorithm on computer models of “icy” Mars. It turned out that subglacial lakes, similar to those that astronomers discovered in 2018, should have been located in many parts of the planet.

Surprised by these results, scientists decided to find out how radio waves and rocks interact at similar points on the planet’s map. It turned out that there are volcanic minerals with a high iron content. They are unusually good at reflecting radio emission towards Mars-Express.

Something similar, as suggested by Grima and his colleagues, happened when analyzing radar images of the south pole of Mars. That is, they may not be real Martian subglacial lakes, but peculiar “mirages” that arose as a result of interactions between radio waves and volcanic rocks. This feature of the Martian relief must be taken into account when searching for liquid water on the Red Planet, the scientists concluded.


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