Hubble snaps stunning near-opposition portraits of Mars and Saturn

Pablo Tucker
August 1, 2018

A huge lake of salty water appears to be buried deep in Mars, raising the possibility of finding life on the red planet, scientists reported Wednesday. Mars, the closest it has been since 2003. Coinciding with this, researchers with the Italian Space Agency announced on Wednesday their discovery of a large reservoir of liquid salt water underneath the polar cap of Mars.

Here's what you need to know about the best times and days to see Mars as well as if you need any special equipment to catch a glimpse of the Red Planet.

The information originates from Mars Express, a European rocket that has been orbiting Mars for a long time. Mars and Earth, like all other planets in our solar system, both orbit the sun, but do so at different speeds.

It's almost a mile below the surface and more than 12 miles wide.

"This is certainly not a very pleasant environment for life", he said.

Dissolved salts are thought to keep the water fluid, despite having a temperature below freezing point.

"This is a discovery of extraordinary significance, and is bound to heighten speculation about the presence of living organisms on the Red Planet", said Fred Watson of the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

This animation shows the rotation of Mars over the course of 42 minutes and is based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Mars is also safe to view with the naked eye.

MARSIS "then measures how the radio waves propagate and reflect back to the spacecraft", said the study. The properties of the material that lies between influences the returned signal, which can be used to map the subsurface topography.

Among the 29 radar samplings, the scientists spotted a series of unusually strong reflections bearing a distinct electrical hallmark. The new aquifer under South Pole points to similar subsurface lakes on Mars and now the competition to detect the same would grow.

The persistent storm has lasted for more than four months, which has caused trouble for the solar-powered Mars Opportunity rover.

"We found that any other explanation for these very strong echoes was not really tenable in light of the evidence that we had available", he said. "In fact, SHARAD cannot penetrate through the ice here and no one understands why it can't", Stillman said. All of these factors will combine to give us all the biggest and brightest shining look at Mars since August of 2003. Unlike Earth, Mars' more elliptical orbit has a greater influence on its seasonal changes. "Follow the Water" has been one of the major goals of NASA's Mars program. Unfortunately, we're getting the short end of the stick on this one.

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