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Mars Has Frozen Sea


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Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter has discovered a frozen sea under the surface near the red planet's equator, raising the possibility that life may exist there, mission scientists said.


lefthttp://www.hypography.com/gallery/files/5/00000157_thumb.jpg[/img]The sea appears to have formed from water that came from below the planet's surface about 5 million years ago and now survives as ice under a layer of dust and volcanic ash, University College London, one of three institutions leading studies on the craft's high resolution stereo camera instrument, said today in an e-mailed statement.


Higher levels of methane gas over the same area suggest that ``primitive'' organisms might survive on Mars today, UCL said, adding that further research to confirm the presence of ice beneath the surface will be carried out by a Mars Express radar that will be deployed in May. Methane on Earth is produced as a by-product of the metabolism of many organisms.


``The fact that there have been warm and wet places beneath the surface of Mars since before life began on Earth, and that some are probably still there, means that there is a possibility that primitive micro-organisms survive on Mars today,'' John Murray at the U.K.'s Open University said in the statement. ``This mission has changed many of my long-held opinions about Mars -- we now have to go there and check it out.''



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