Even though the prospect of human exploration on Mars is still not to be seen in the near future, scientists have already found out about the geology of the planet. A study published in the journal Science Advances discovered that a Martian volcano could have continuously erupted over the last 2 billion years.
They took this conclusion after analyzing a Martian meteorite found in Algeria in 2012. The rock weighs about 0.44 pounds and was discovered among another 11 stones that seem to come from the Red Planet. After looking at their exposure to cosmic rays, they found out that the rocks were propelled from Mars about 1.1 million years ago.
However, all stones were found to have formed 500 million years except the meteorite, which is at least 2.4 billion years old.
Marc Caffee, astronomer and physicist at Purdue University, is the co-author of the study. He declared that roughly 1,000 meteorites were discovered every year across deserts, but they usually didn’t surprise the astronomers. However, this particular one was indeed spectacular and offered them valuable information.
Basically, they have found out that Mars has been hosting magma on its surface for more than 2 billion years. Such an active volcanic activity is unusual for Earth. The continuous movement of our tectonic plates would subdue any volcanic activity way quicker than 2 billion years.
However, the tectonic mechanism of Mars is a bit more complicated. Some researchers suggest that Mars has no tectonic activity, while others think that it once was more similar to Earth than we would expect.
Also, Mars can host volcanoes of enormous size. For example, the Red Planet is the home of the biggest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. Tharsis Bulge is a Martian region covered in volcanoes. Researchers found that this region produces so many billions of tons of lava that the top layers of the planet shifted.
Caffee admitted they, at the moment, they couldn’t tell for sure where the meteorite came from, whether it was Olympus Mons or other volcano. However, they could find out other information, such as get an insight on the conditions on Mars. It is quite amazing that they can perform analyses on the geology of the Red Planet without even being there.
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