A paper has recently revealed that the Mars Express spaceship might have detected what is believed to be a lake, beneath the frozen surface of the planet’s south pole. The discovery opens the possibility of finding life on the red planet, even if it is at the limits of habitability.
Speaking to talkRADIO about this discovery, Professor Dartnell said: “The important thing for the possibility of life on Mars, simple bacterial life, is that water to be liquid, to be wet. And that’s why this discovery is so exciting because we just found a large body of liquid water beneath the surface of Mars.”
As an astrobiology researcher, interested in the possibility of life on another planet, Professor Dartnell explained the importance of finding minerals like clays, which lay down next to seas, lakes and rivers, and might have preserved organic molecules or other signs of life.
In an article for The Times, Professor Dartnell talked about similar environments to the Martian lake on Earth: “This subsurface lake on Mars represents a very extreme environment, and is right on the brink of what we might consider to be habitable.”
According to him, the lake represents one of the best chances for finding living microbes on Mars. Explaining the challenges of reaching it for i News, Professor Dartnell added: “It’s also going to be very hard to reach with robotic probes. But it’s a very exciting potential habitat for extra-terrestrial life, and we’d love to explore it.”