SCIENTISTS think there might be underground volcanoes on Mars.
If true, the bonkers theory would raise the hope of one day finding life on the mysterious planet.
The hidden pockets of magma could even help future human colonists settle on Mars by serving as a heat source, scientists said.
Boffins at the University of Arizona made their bold predictions off the back of a recent major discovery about Mars.
A liquid water lake was found beneath the planet’s southern ice cap in July 2018, marking the first time a long-lasting reservoir of water had been found on Mars.
The sub-glacial lake, spotted by a radar on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express orbiter, is about 20 kilometres wide and possibly no more than a meter deep.
The team proposed that salts in the lake kept the water, which has a temperature as low as -68C (-90F), from freezing over.
But in the new study, scientists argue that underground volcanoes would be needed to keep the lake from turning to ice.
Specifically, hidden magma chambers deep beneath the Martian crust would be required to keep the water liquid all-year round.
“Different people may go different ways with this, and we’re really interested to see how the community reacts to it,” said study author Dr Michael Sori, a scientist at the University of Arizona.
If there is volcanic activity on Mars, it could have huge implications for our understanding of the planet.
The presence of liquid water on the planet would add a new twist to our search for alien life, and for human exploration of Mars.
“We think that if there is any life, it likely has to be protected in the subsurface from the radiation,” said Dr Ali Bramson, also at the University of Arizona and Dr Sori’s co-lead author.
“If there are still magmatic processes active today, maybe they were more common in the recent past, and could supply more widespread basal melting.
“This could provide a more favourable environment for liquid water and thus, perhaps, life.”
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Earlier today, it emerged that Nasa’s Opportunity Mars rover may be “dead” after it ground to a halt during a mega-sandstorm last summer.
And it seems humans won’t be making it to Mars in the near future – the Mars One startup has gone bankrupt and won’t send humans to Mars by 2025.
You can find our roundup of some of the best photos taken on Mars by clicking here.
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