"If there is actually a substantial liquid water reservoir or aquifer of some sort, I think that definitely increases the chances of life on Mars - bacterial or microbial life", said Mickol, now a postdoctoral fellow doing research at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
In the new discovery, between May 2012 and December 2015, Orosei and colleagues used MARSIS to survey a region called Planum Australe, located in the southern ice cap of Mars.
A total of 29 sets of radar samplings showed a "very sharp change in its associated radar signal", allowing scientists to map the outlines of the lake.
A water pond would suggest the presence of salts that, like on icy roads, lower the freezing point of water, he said.
It remains to be seen if more subsurface reservoirs of water will be found or whether the newly discovered one is some sort of quirk, Orosei said.
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Water is essential to life as we know it. Scientists have long sought to prove that the liquid is present on Mars.
The area is similar to that of lakes found beneath the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets on Earth, which also were detected using radar scans.
The discovery could offer fresh clues about how Earth's neighbor so profoundly transformed billions of years ago from a warmer, wetter world to its freeze-dried state today, according to Scientific American.
In the past, Mars had already been home to bodies of water as evidenced by dry bed lakes and river valleys on its surface.
Given that the ghostly shadows of Mars' watery past cover the planet, the existence of liquid water beneath its surface had always been suspected by scientists. The interface between ice and water acts similarly, producing a bright reflection. "Those are not ideal conditions for life to form", Siebach said. There are obvious parallels to Antarctica, where lakes have been discovered beneath glaciers in several areas of the otherwise frozen continent.
Speaking in a recorded interview released by Science, Prof Orosei revealed that his team spent years checking their results before being confident enough to announce the discovery.