Scientists from the University of Southern California Arid Climate and Water Research Center believe that there’s water not only beneath the planet’s southern pole, but also near its equator. This discovery offers a possible and ideal landing site for NASA astronauts or other space agencies during future human exploration.

According to the report which appeared in Nature Geoscience, the site is still active which means that water occasionally rises to the surface. This possible water activity makes the area an ideal spot for human exploration as it can address one of the most basic needs to consider the Red Planet as habitable.

The team is headed by Abotalib Z. Abotalib, a postdoctoral research associate at USC. He reported that the active system runs 750 meters deep and that groundwater emerges between the cracks on the surface of craters.

This spring water comes out because of deep pressure beneath Mars and can be distinguished via visible linear features called slope lineae. This theory was reached using high-resolution optical images of the slopes and compared it with their own studies of subsurface and groundwater flow movement on desert environments on Earth.

“We have seen the same mechanisms in the North African Sahara and in the Arabian Peninsula, and it helped us explore the same mechanism on Mars,” Abotalib said.

Together with Essam Heggy, Ph.D., Abotalib reiterated that the crater area where water seemingly emerges could be the primary location for future Mars colonies. Based on NASA’s plans to bring humans to the Red Planet, the first part of their exploration involves choosing a landing site to conduct water extraction so the area can definitely address this important requirement.

Studying the groundwater system of the planet is very important to future Mars explorations as it can be used in comparison with the Earth’s water system. This can help scientists determine if Mars is habitable for humans and if we can consider this planetary cousin as another place to call home in the near future.

However, these linear features have always been contended by scientists. NASA, for one, believes that the dark streaks of the slope are evidence of the existence of water on Mars which could also mean that it is possible for life to exist. Some studies mentioned in this report, however, said that the linear slopes are not water but simply sand eroding downhill.

Humans are ready to reach Mars. Pictured: In this handout provided by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, dark, narrow streaks on the slopes of Garni Crater are inferred to be formed by seasonal flow of water on surface of present-day Mars. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona via Getty Images