The case for Martian volcanoes rising above ancient, vanished oceans is getting stronger.
Researchers analyze images of Mars Olympus Mons, which is the tallest volcano in our solar system, says a rumpled piece of land near the mountain’s northern region was likely formed when hot lava erupted from the summit millions of years ago. It is believed that the lava hit the ice and water at the base of the mountain, triggering the landslides. Scientists say at least a few of these landslides must have extended about 621 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the volcano and wrinkled as it hardened over the ages.
While these striped features on Mars have long been studied, the role of water in their formation has remained an open question. The new findings add evidence to the prevailing theory that liquid water once flowed freely on the Red Planet, which is now a cold desert world save for remnants of ice largely trapped within its poles.
The wrinkled piece of land seen in the new images is known as Lycus Sulci (Sulci is a geological term; Latin for parallel canyons). It was captured by the European Space Agency in January this year Mars Express The orbiter, which celebrated two decades of orbiting Mars while searching for signs of groundwater.
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These new ideas arrive on the heels Similar geological evidence It was found in July in connection with the giant cliffs surrounding Olympus Mons. Researchers believe that these cliffs, or cliffs as they are called, represent an ancient coastline with a large depression in which liquid water once flowed. Recent findings support this idea, suggesting that the lower part of the mountain collapsed when the ice and water at its base became unstable when faced with lava erupting from its interior.
“This collapse came in the form of massive rockslides and landslides, which slid downward and spread widely across the surrounding plains,” the researchers wrote in a study. statement.
Lycus Sulci, seen in the new images, stretches 621 miles (1,000 km) from Olympus Mons and stops just short of reaching Yelwa Crater, a 4.9-mile (8 km) Martian bowl named after a living organism. town in Nigeria.
The grooves that define lava flows near the Yalova crater show “the extent to which destructive landslides travel from the sides of the volcano before settling,” the researchers said in the same statement.
Although this possibility is tantalizing, the new findings do not conclude whether the Lycus Sulci region is friendly to life on Mars. On Earth, however, it is the first of its kind Research study from 2019 Show that Hawaiian “lava crickets” are adept at thriving in the scorching, unforgiving lava heat that follows volcanic eruptions.
While the presence of liquid water in Mars’ past is good news for life in general, scientists believe that any organisms that might have thrived on the once watery Mars perished along with the oceans. A few other researchers suggest that single-celled organisms may have managed to hibernate deep inside the planet’s ice caps, though it’s anyone’s guess if they still exist today.
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