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Mars More Earth-like Than the Moon, New Study Suggests

Mar 01, 2017 07:18 AM EST
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Mars has always been known as the barren planet near the Earth. However, a recent study suggests that the red planet is more Earth-like than previously thought.

This is due to the discovery of a complex Martian mantle with obvious geochemical changes. The research conducted by the Louisiana State University (LSU) and the findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The mantle from the lava flow of Elysium, a Martian volcanic region, was scrutinized by the study. LSU collaborated with experts from the University of Rahuna in Sri Lanka, the SETI Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA Ames, and the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in France to conduct the study.

Based on the paper, they discovered the complex chemistry of the lava flows in the area. This is conclusive of magmatic activities under the surface of the red planet. The weight of the process created resulted in the melting of layers at different temperature conditions as they start to rise on the surface of the planet.

Elysium is an interesting region to analyze, as it is twice the height of Mount Everest. Located at the northern lowland of Mars, it possesses unique characteristics and is isolated from other formations. Experts say some of its lava flows appear to be very young for a geologically dormant planet.

"Most of the volcanic features we look at on Mars are in the range of 3-4 billion years old," graduate researcher David Susko and study team leader said in a statement. "There are some patches of lava flows on Elysium that we estimate to be 3-4 million years old, so three orders of magnitude younger. In geologic timescales, 3 million years ago is like yesterday."

In fact, Susko suggests that the Elysium volcanoes may, in theory, still erupt today. One of the major discoveries of the study is the presence of thorium and potassium that are considered the most reliable geochemical signatures on the red planet. The geological properties of Elysium are similar to the Earth's Tibesti Mountains in Chad, according to a report.

"They act like beacons emitting their own gamma photons. These elements also often couple in volcanic settings on Earth," Susko added.

Because of this, some experts even argue that Mars is even more Earth-like compared to the moon.

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