Sky News: The first large, stable mass of liquid water has been detected on Mars – boosting the chance of one day finding life on the planet.
Scientists using ground-penetrating radar found a 12-mile (about 20km) wide lake about a mile beneath the southern ice cap.
Salts in the lake are believed to have kept the water – which has a temperature as low as -68C (-90F) – from freezing over.
Liquid water is an essential requirement for life as we understand it.
Conditions in the lake may be harsh – and not suitable for fish or complex organisms – but it is possible some microbes may be able to survive.
The fact that it exists raises the prospect of other liquid water that could be warmer and less salty.
The lake’s depth is not known however, and scientists say it could be very shallow and murky.
Mars is now cold and dry but dried-out lake beds and river valleys point to an abundance of water more than three billion years ago.
There has also been evidence of recent water activity – such as long, dark streaks appearing on steep slopes – but never of stable bodies of water.