A similar assumption first appeared after the Mars Express probe in 2018 observed irregularities in the ice surface of the South Pole, which can be caused by liquid water under the ice. Some specialists found this explanation unconvincing, because in order for the water not to freeze in the cold characteristic of this region, a source of heat, such as geothermal energy, is needed. Therefore, some scientists believed that the radar reflected something else.
As part of the latest research, the team used a new method to study the Ultimis Scopili region. They analyzed topographic information obtained by the Mars Global Surveyor satellite, and concluded that this unevenness of the ice surface was consistent with data from a computer model of how subglacial liquid water transforms the shape of the ice sheet itself.
“A combination of new topographic evidence, computer model results, and radar data indicates that there is at least one area of subglacial liquid water on Mars today,” the authors say.
Similar things are happening on earth. which allows researchers to compare the processes taking place on these two celestial bodies. In particular, subglacial lakes on our planet reduce the friction at the bottom of the cover, due to which the ice flows faster under the influence of gravity, which creates raised and depressed areas on the surface.
Such a 10-15-kilometer wave structure has been observed on Mars by the Mars Express, the elevations and depressions of which differ by several meters from the level of the surrounding area. A computer simulation showed that the interaction with liquid water led to the formation of a surface of such a size and shape.
The authors say that to keep water in a liquid state, the Red Planet must have geothermal heat, possibly from recent magmatic activity.
The new paper was published in Nature Astronomy.