Region of Antarctica somewhat resembles Mars.
And scientists believe that Antarctica’s hidden water in these conditions could indicate the potential for life on Mars! And that’s because they have discovered grimy water in an extremely harsh environment!
Using an airborne electromagnetic sensor system known as SkyTEM (developed at the University of Aarhus in Denmark), a team of scientists discovered that there are large networks of briny groundwater hiding beneath the surface of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica. It’s dry, desolate and the closest environment we have on Earth to Mars. The salty brines, they found, are able to form large reservoirs beneath glaciers, frozen lakes and within permafrost.
Discovery of sub-glacial water
Discovery of sub-glacial water stores by University of Tennessee researchers raises the possibility of active for scientists searching Mars. Tyler Glacier, best known for its red “blood falls,” has also been studied for it’s groundwater which is enriched by microbes feeding on iron and sulfur deposits turns red and flows out from the front of the glacier.
Possibilities for better understanding
“We didn’t know to what extent life could exist beneath the glaciers, beneath hundreds of meters of ice, beneath ice covered lakes and deep into the soil,” says Ross Virginia, an ecosystem environmentalist at Dartmouth College and a co-author of the study, published in Nature Communications today. This study opens up “possibilities for better understanding the combinations of factors that might be found on other planets and bodies outside of the Earth” — including Mars.
“It may change the way people think about the coastal margins of Antarctica,” said Jill Mikucki, a UT microbiology assistant professor. “We know there is significant saturated sediment below the surface that is likely seeping into the ocean and affecting the productivity of things that feed ocean food webs. It lends to the understanding of the flow of nutrients and how that might affect ecosystem health.”