The bare landscape of Mars leaves the world appear like a quiet, frozen desert where nothing has ever happened for countless years except for the occasional dust storm.
New research, however, implies that the red planet has a recent history of activity — and it could nevertheless be volcanically active.
Scientists are attempting to comprehend the background of Mars, and NASA rovers like Curiosity and Perseverance will help discover evidence to piece together the planet’s time line.
Scientists had believed a lot of the world’s volcanic activity occurred between 3 and 4 billion years back, along with a few isolated eruptions happening about 3 million decades ago.
Today, orbiters circling Mars have provided vision and data of a previously unknown field of interest. This latest information shows signs of volcanic activity that happened within the last 50,000 years — which is quite young, astronomically speaking.
The smooth, dark area stretches for 2 miles. It is surrounded by a 20-mile-long volcanic fissure in the Cerberus Fossae system of faults where the Martian crust has pulled . This interesting feature is situated in the Elysium Planitia area, a plain propagate across the world’s equator and next largest volcanic region.
“This may be the youngest volcanic deposit yet documented on Mars,” said lead study author David Horvath, a research scientist in the Planetary Science Institute, in a statement.
The investigators consider the evidence, including how the substance was distributed on the outside, matches a pyroclastic eruption. This sort of volcanic eruption occurs when magma explodes because of expanding gases. Quite simply, think about what happens when you shake a soda.
“When we first noticed this residue, we knew it was something special,” said study coauthor Jeff Andrews-Hanna, an associate professor in the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, in a statement. “The residue was unlike anything else within the area, or indeed on all of Mars, and much more closely resembled features generated by older volcanic eruptions on the Moon and Mercury.”
The majority of the proof of earlier volcanic action is similar to lava flows which we could see on Earth. However, this one differs.
“This attribute overlies the lava flows and appears to be a comparatively fresh and slim deposit of ash and stone, representing a different kind of eruption than formerly identified pyroclastic attributes,” Horvath said. “This eruption might have spewed ash as high as 6 miles to Mars’ atmosphere. It is possible that these sorts of deposits were more prevalent but have been eroded or buried.”
The prospect of life on Mars
While neither of the rovers are near enough to explore this feature, NASA’s InSight Lander is roughly 1,000 miles away. The stationary craft has been studying seismic activity on Mars because it landed in November 2018.
Whilst monitoring seismic action, InSight discovered two Marsquakes — like earthquakes but not caused by tectonic plates since Mars doesn’t have any — which originated in the area around Cerberus Fossae.
Since tectonic activity is not the cause, scientists believe magma might be moving deep inside the world’s interior to induce these quakes.