Mars Could Still Be Volcanically Active, Raising Questions About Recent Habitability

Mars Could Still Be Volcanically Active, Raising Questions About Recent Habitability

Mars has the highest mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons. It is an extinct volcano three times the size of Everest, a huge monument to the incredible volcanic past of the planet. But perhaps the past is not as distant as we previously believed. Observations have so far suggested that no volcanoes have occurred on Mars for at least a few million years.

A new paper published in Icarus reports that some of the evidence is controversial. Astronomers have found a small region that appears to be a volcanic deposit in the Cerberus Fossae fissures system. The team believes that these deposits could be 220,000 years old and less than 50,000 years old. If it does, volcanic activity could occur today, Tuesday. Lead author Dr David Horvath, from the Planetary Science Institute, said in a statement, “This feature is a mysterious dark deposit. It has a high thermal inertia over a slightly larger area than Washington DC. This feature is similar to the dark spots on the moon and Mercury was proposed as an explosive volcanic eruption.”

“It may be the youngest volcano ever recorded on Mars. If we could compress the geological history of Mars in a day, it would happen at the very last second. The eruption probably left ashes in the atmosphere up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) away. Definitely impressive, but the team sees it as the latest rate of Martian volcano. It said the most powerful marsquakes spot identified by NASA Insight was Cerberus Fossae. While not sure, there may be a link between the two.

“The sheer age of this deposit raises the possibility that Mars may still have volcanic activity, and that the most powerful marsquakes detected by NASA’s Insight site have been inspired by Cerberus Fossae, which is interesting.” It will be harder to stay close to the surface of Mars in the long run, and therefore a deeper mathematical source will be needed to create this explosion.” As usual there is a question to answer when something unexpected is found on Mars. Could this hinder or help the possibility of life on the Red Planet? Volcanic activity will certainly help. Ascending magma can keep the region at a mild temperature; it can melt underground ice deposits as well as create conditions conducive to microbial life.

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