Clay may be the source of Martian lakes, not water

While there is plenty of evidence to indicate that there was water on Mars in the past, the discovery of it

liquid form, which has survived to this day,inspired scientists. In 2018, the Mars Express orbiter returned radar signals corresponding to the water interface. Scientists have come to the conclusion that the lake with liquid water lies under 1.5 km of solid ice and extends for 20 km. Further observations showed that there are several such reservoirs on Mars.

Colored dots represent places of brightradar reflections around Mars' south pole, detected by the Mars Express orbiter - once interpreted as lakes of liquid water below the surface, their sheer number has led scientists to question this claim.

ESA / NASA / JPL - Caltech

Radar signals that can penetratethrough rocks and ice, change as they reflect from various materials. In this case, they produced particularly bright signals under the polar cap that could be interpreted as liquid water.

However, after years of researching the data andexperiments in terrestrial laboratories, scientists have come to a disappointing conclusion. They hypothesized that clay, rather than water, could create such signals. Over the past month, three new studies on this topic came out at once, which destroy the hypothesis about lakes.

So, in particular, it is noted that many of thesesignals were detected in areas close to the surface. And there the temperatures are too low for the water to continue to remain in a liquid state, even taking into account the fact that it mixed with salts, which can lower the freezing point of water.

After analyzing the available signals for what else could generate them, the scientists identified possible options, which included clays, metal-containing minerals and salt ice.

All three studies were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters [1], [2], [3].

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