The presence of dried up river beds and polar ice caps have long suggested that Mars had running water at one point, but a European research agency has discovered actual flowing water deep beneath one of the planet's ice caps.
The European Space Agency (ESA) made the discovery with their Mars Express Orbiter of what appears to be about a 12-mile wide body of liquid deep beneath the South Polar Ice Cap, the first sign of actual running water ever found on the Red Planet, and it certainly leads to more questions about the possibility of Mars having had life on it at some point in its existence.
While researchers years ago deemed Mars' atmosphere and climate as inhospitable for life in its current state, this is further indication that life could have existed on Mars at some point, and also leaves open the possibility of some kind of lifeform that survives deep within the planet's subsurface. While temperatures on the surface often range between -10 and -30 degrees Celsius, warmer conditions underneath (such as what would be required for an active body of water) would potentially be habitable for some species. On the other hand, the water could also contain an enormous amount of salt, which would keep the lake from freezing but also prove to be difficult for any kind of life form.
Nonetheless...THERE'S A FREAKING LAKE ON MARS!
Good morning, there’s a lake on Mars. pic.twitter.com/C6xJz1IiN8— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) July 25, 2018
Pharrell's excited, WHY AREN'T YOU!?!?!
Needless to say, the science community especially is freaking out over this news.
Mars "may be our first real place to go look hard to see if we're alone or not"— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 25, 2018
Ex-astronaut @Cmdr_Hadfield says discovery of liquid water raises the prospect of finding extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet https://t.co/jtjTXRzYe4 pic.twitter.com/B24B4Hs9x2
The discovery of water on Mars gives scientists a specific target for future Mars missions, and helps acclimatize people to the idea that we may not be alone in the Universe, as people sense we're getting ever closer to discovering alien life. #MarsWater https://t.co/feyFaoMzhk— Nick Pope (@nickpopemod) July 25, 2018
Whether or not this leads to any further discoveries remains to be seen, but as someone who used to be obsessed with humans potentially landing on Mars, this is a pretty exciting day.