Mars isn’t as sleepy as scientists suspected. An international research team, which includes Brown University planetary geologist James Head, has found evidence of recent glacial movement and volcanic eruptions in 3-D images from the Mars Express mission. The team’s latest work, laid out in three Nature papers, also includes evidence of a frozen sea close to the equator. These and other Mars Express findings are stoking debate about the possibility of life on the Red Planet.
Mars is very dynamic. The shape and flow of this deposit near a Martian mountain almost 4 km. tall suggests ice-rich glacial movement. The image, taken on the eastern rim of the Hellas Basin, was made by the Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera. Photo: European Space Agency
Shifting glaciers and exploding volcanoes aren’t confined to Mars’ distant past, according two new reports in the journal Nature.
Glaciers moved from the poles to the tropics 350,000 to 4 million years ago, depositing massive amounts of ice at the base of mountains and volcanoes in the eastern Hellas region near the planet’s equator, based on a report by a team of scientists analyzing images from the Mars Express mission. Scientists also studied images of glacial remnants on the western side of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system. They found additional evidence of recent ice formation and movement on these tropical mountain glaciers, similar to ones on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
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