Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Planetary scientists say in a new report that Mars has four subsurface lakes, which could be a habitat for life.
After finding one location where water may be buried in 2018, researchers did a more detailed analysis of the region using radar data from the spacecraft Mars Express. The new study used data sets from 134 observations from 2012 to 2019, said the report published Monday in Nature Astronomy.
"We identified the same body of water, but we also found three other bodies of water around the main one," planetary scientist Elena Pettinelli of the University of Rome, a lead co-author of the report, said in a statement. "It's a complex system."
The spacecraft used a radar system called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding to examine the planet's southern polar region. The radar bounces radio waves off layers of material on the planet's surface and subsurface.
It can detect the presents of rock, ice or water from the way the signal is reflected back. A similar method is used to find subsurface glacial lakes on Earth. The result on Mars indicated liquid water was trapped under more than 3,280 feet of ice.
Researchers said the largest lake spans about nearly 19 miles across and is surrounded by the three smaller lakes. All four lakes cover about 46,600 square miles.
On Earth, such subglacial lakes have contained life but there would need to be a reasonable amount of salt available for the water to remain a liquid.