While its existence provides a tantalising prospect for those interested in the possibility of past or present life on Mars, the lake’s characteristics must first be verified by further research.
“What needs to be done now,” explained Dr Matt Balme from the Open University, “is for the measurements to be repeated elsewhere to look for similar signals, and, if possible, for all other explanation to be examined and – hopefully – ruled out.
“Maybe this could even be the trigger for an ambitious new Mars mission to drill into this buried water-pocket – like has been done for sub-glacial lakes in Antarctica on Earth,” he added.
Scientists have previously claimed to find bacterial life in the buried depths of Antarctica’s Lake Vostok, but drilling on Mars would make for an ambitious project indeed.
“Getting there and acquiring the final evidence that this is indeed a lake will not be an easy task,” said Prof Orosei.
“It will require flying a robot there which is capable of drilling through 1.5km of ice. This will certainly require some technological developments that at the moment are not available.”