London, June 27 (ANI): A new hypothesis has suggested that Mars may have a water table hidden underground, despite satellite data suggesting otherwise.
Today the small amount of water detected on the planet is locked in the polar ice caps, but recently discovered geological features suggest liquid water once flowed on its surface.
This could now be hiding beneath the rocky crust.
According to a report in New Scientist, the European Space Agency's Mars Express satellite has used ground-penetrating radar in some areas to look for a water table but found no evidence for one, despite research that concluded any water would be found within 9 kilometres of the surface, which is well within the reach of the probe's instruments.
Planetary scientist Bill Farrell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and colleagues say that scientists should not give up the search for the Martian water table just yet.
The satellite's radar signal should bounce back from shiny surfaces like water.
But, the team calculates that if the layer of rock and icy soil above the water table is particularly conductive, it could be absorbing enough energy from the radar to obscure a telltale signal.
According to Farrell, the work will be useful for missions to other icy bodies too.
"We don't want future geologists to look at their radar data and say no reflectance means no aquifer," he said. (ANI)