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Italian Space Agency says it’s found evidence of water on Mars

The Italian Space Agency believes it’s found a 20km wide underground lake of liquid water locked under thick ice near the planet’s south pole.

FILE: The European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter has been circling Mars since 2003. Picture: @esascience/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The Italian Space Agency (ISA) says it’s found the first proof of water on Mars.

While it’s long been known that the planet has substantial ice deposits, this is the first time scientists have detected a stable body of water in liquid form on the planet.

Previous research has found possible signs of water sporadically flowing on the surface of Mars and Nasa’s Curiosity rover was able to explore ancient lake beds that suggest the planet once had copious water.

But because of the thin atmosphere and the cooling of the planet, most of its water is locked up in ice.

Now, the ISA believes it’s found a 20km wide underground lake of liquid water locked under thick ice near the planet’s south pole.

The discovery was made using a radar instrument on board the Mars Express orbiter, which works by bouncing low-frequency electromagnetic waves off the surface of the planet then analysing the data that returns.

The ISA team’s findings will appear in this week’s issue of the journal Science, they will reignite speculation about the planet's geology and the potential for life on Mars.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)