Scientists have discovered an under-ice lake on Mars.  Now there is a problem

Mars tempts humanity because it resembles our planet in many respects. We are dealing here with a rocky planet, where – just as on Earth – we will find hills, valleys, plains, polar caps, and even riverbeds that flowed on the surface of this planet billions of years ago.

In theory, with adequate supplies of water, air and food, humans could live on Mars. This, in turn, raises the question of whether there is life on Mars or whether it existed in the past. Data from all the cameras sent to Mars indicate that this was possible at least in the past, when the planet’s atmosphere was thicker and liquid water was able to survive on its surface.

Read also: There is water on Mars and perhaps life. The evidence is really strong

It is therefore not surprising that the discovery of a reservoir of liquid water under the polar cap at the planet’s south pole in 2018 sparked excitement among scientists. This tank was identified in data collected by the MARSIS radar, which looks under the surface of the ice, and was installed on board the European space probe Mars Express.

With every such discovery, checking and looking for alternative solutions is crucial. Maybe this lake is not a lake at all?

W Latest scientific article Scientists from Cornell University point to an alternative explanation for radar data that was originally linked to a reservoir of liquid water.

The simulations described in the article suggest the possibility of a less dramatic solution. It is known that in the Martian polar caps there are layers of frozen carbon dioxide with layers of water ice underneath. Just beneath them, at a depth of tens of kilometers, there was a reservoir of liquid water. However, Cornell scientists have shown that small differences between individual layers of water ice can lead to constructive interference of radar waves, which can lead to reflections that are similar in intensity and variability to waves that have already been recorded and attributed to the body of water.

Read also: Water, water everywhere! Amazing map of Mars

to request? On the one hand, the simulations do not challenge the theory that there is a lake under the polar cap on Mars. On the other hand, the same simulations suggest that there is a much simpler explanation that does not require liquid water on Mars.

So there is a problem. Occam’s Razor clearly states that the simplest explanation is often the correct one. Therefore, since observational data can only be explained by taking into account only what we already know on Mars: water ice and dry ice, there is no need to add a reservoir of liquid water to the explanation, because liquid water never existed. Found on Mars we have not seen. On the other hand, simulations do not allow us to clearly say that this water reservoir does not exist.

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