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A new study by Italian scientists has detected a massive underground lake on Mars, raising the possibility of finding more water on the Red Planet, the worldwide news agency AFP has reported.

ESA's Mars Express orbiter has used radar signals bounced through underground layers of ice to find evidence of liquid water trapped below the south polar cap of the Red Planet.

Time and time again across the entire observing campaign the new MARSIS readings revealed a consistent 20-kilometer-wide bright spot nestled in a bowl-like depression beneath the ice cap in Planum Australe-a feature consistent with a sizable body of liquid water (or, to be fair, with water-saturated sediments more akin to subterranean sludge).

A huge lake of liquid salty water has been found buried deep in Mars, raising the possibility of finding life on the red planet.

A massive underground lake has been detected for the first time on Mars, raising the possibility that more water and maybe even life - exists there, global astronomers have said.

According to the journal Nature, if further studies confirm the existence of a lake, it could open new avenues for investigating Mars.

"I've been studying life in ice for 35 years", he said.

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How much dust? It's an estimated 3 trillion kilograms displaced between the surface and atmosphere of Mars each year. It will require flying a robot there, which is capable of drilling through 1.5 kilometers of ice. Planetary scientists have been embarked on a quest to find liquid water on the red planet, because life as we know it can not survive without water to act as a solvent in its biochemistry.

Enigmatic, yes, and seemingly not long for this world (or Mars, more to the point).

MARSIS "then measures how the radio waves propagate and reflect back to the spacecraft", said the study. Adding salt-and we've found lots of evidence of salt on Mars-can lower the freezing point of water by turning it into a brine. Calculations have suggested that these conditions may be met at the Martian poles, where large ice caps composed of both water and frozen carbon dioxide exist. On Earth, thousands of species of microbial life have been found in Lake Vostok, a huge lake buried under almost 4km of ice in Antarctica. The surface is scored by old gorges, canyons, beaches, ocean basins and giant volcanoes, whose eruptions could have kept things riled up on the planet.

The depth of the lake is impossible to determine using radar, which returns echoes from the boundary between rock and the bottom of the ice cap, meaning that the water could be anywhere between being as deep as Earth's Lake Vostok, to being a muddy layer just a meter thick.

"But there are terrestrial organisms that can survive and thrive, in fact, in similar environments".

Several researchers said it would be crucial to figure out whether this body of water is the only one, or part of an interconnecting body of underground aquifers - in part because a network increases the possibility it could have harboured life.

From May of 2012 through December of 2015 the Mars Express radar mapped an area near the south pole of Mars. The blue triangle indicates an area of very high reflectivity, interpreted as being caused by the presence of a reservoir of water, about a mile below the surface. There, as on Mars, the surface is barren, but is more hospitable farther down.