Research reveals there may be magma on Mars

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An investigation reveals that there may be magma on Mars

Mars< /strong>has generally been considered a geologically dead planet, however, now an international team of researchers led by ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, reports that seismic signals indicate that the Volcanism still plays an active role in the formation of the Martian surface, as published in the journal 'Nature Astronomy'.

The SEIS seismometer< /h3>

Since 2018, when NASA's InSight mission deployed the SIX seismometer On the surface of Mars, seismologists and geophysicists at ETH Zurich have heard the seismic beeps of more than 1,300 Martian earthquakes. Time and time again, researchers recorded smaller and larger Mars earthquakes. A detailed analysis of the location and spectral character of the earthquakes came as a surprise, they say.

With epicenters originating in the vicinity of the Cerberus Trench, a region formed by a series of rifts or graben, these earthquakes tell a new story suggesting that volcanism continues to play an active role in the formation of the Martian surface.< /p>

The international team of researchers analyzed the a group of more than 20 Martian earthquakesrecent ones that originated in the rift system of the Cerberus Trench. From the seismic data, the scientists concluded that the low-frequency tremors indicate a potentially warm origin that could be explained by current molten lava, i.e. magma at that depth, and volcanic activity on Mars. Specifically, they discovered that the tremors are located mainly in the innermost part of the Cerberus Fossa.

When they compared the seismic data with observational images from the same area, they also discovered darker dust deposits not only in the prevailing wind direction, but in < strong>multiple directions surrounding the Fossa Cerberus Mantle Unit.

“The darker shade of the dust means geological evidence of more recent volcanic activity, perhaps within the last 50,000 years, relatively young in geological terms” , explains Simon Staehler, lead author of the paper and a senior scientist working in the seismology and geodynamics group led by Professor Domenico Giardini at the >Geophysics Institute of ETH Zurich.

Mars is the only planet other than Earth where scientists have ground vehicles, landers, and now even drones that transmit data. All other planetary exploration, so far, has been based on orbital imaging.

“InSight's SEIS is the most sensitive seismometer ever. Mars is installed on another planet, says Domenico Giardini, offering geophysicists and seismologists the opportunity to work with current data that shows what is happening on Mars today, both on the surface and in its interior” According to Europa Press.

Seismic data, together with orbital images, guarantee a higher degree of confidence for scientific inferences Mars, one of our closest terrestrial neighbors, is important for understanding similar geological processeson earth. The red planet is the only one we know of, so far, that has a core composition of iron, nickel, and sulfur that could have once supported a magnetic field strong>.

Topographical evidence also indicates that Mars hosted in its day large expanses of water and possibly a denser atmosphere. Even today, scientists have found that frozen water still exists in its polar ice caps, though possibly most of it is dry ice. “Although much remains to be learned, the evidence for the existence of a possible magma on Mars is intriguing,” says Anna Mittelholz, a postdoctoral fellow at ETH Zurich and Harvard University. .

Looking at images of the vast, dry, dusty Martian landscape, it is hard to imagine that some 3.6 billion years ago Mars was very much alive, at least in a geophysical sense. vomited volcanic remains long enough to give rise to the Tharsis Montes region , the largest volcanic system in our solar system, and Mont Olympus , a volcano nearly three times higher than Mount Everest.

Tremors coming from the nearby Cerberus Pits, named after a creature in Greek mythology known as the hellhound of Hades that watches over the underworld, suggest that Mars is not quite there yet. completely dead. Here, the weight of the volcanic region is being weighed down. sinking and forming parallel cracks that separate the crust of Mars, like the cracks that appear on the top of a cake as it bakes.

According to Staehler, “it's possible that what we're seeing are the last remains of this volcanic region that was active or that the magma is being moving east right now, towards the next eruption site.”

The last precedent

The 'Rover Perseverance 'A NASA team obtained rock core samples within an area considered by scientists to be one of the most promising for discovering signs of microbial life on Mars and identified A strong sign of organic matter on Mars: it would be remnants of past life on the Red Planet. The samples present a class of organic molecules directly related to sulfate minerals: these minerals, found in layers of sedimentary rock, can provide important information about aqueous environmentsin which they were formed. In addition, NASA confirmed The samples contain the largest amount of organic matter identifiedto date during the current mission.

They may also contain other elements, such as nitrogen. , phosphorus and sulfur. Although there are chemical processes that produce these molecules without requiring the presence of life, some of these compounds are part of the basic chemical components of life. The organic molecules included a diverse variety of compounds, composed mainly of carbon, hydrogen atoms, and oxygen, a compound that has already been produced on Mars.

De according to a study published last September in the journal 'Science Advances', the device called 'MOXIE' efficiently produced oxygen on the scarlet planet, after seven previous tests. It is an instrument the size of a handbag. produce oxygen from the carbon dioxide that dominates the thin atmosphere of Mars and that already produces the same oxygen as a tree throughout the day.< /p>

Volcanoes in the solar system

The research led by researchers from the University of Maryland and the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich, in Switzerland , published last August a study in the journal 'Nature Geoscience' which provides the first scientific proof that the coronae on Venus are still evolving, indicating that the interior of the planet is warm. in full turmoil.

Venus also has signs of volcanic activity. The surface of Venus is approximately 90% basalt (it is a dark-colored extrusive igneous rock) so experts approximate the volcanic flows that were formed. It is known to have around 1600 volcanoes, although none of them seem to be currently active.

On the other hand, Jupiter, due to its composition, As a soda, it does not stand out for its volcanoes, but its satellites do. Io, one of Jupiter's largest moons, reaches an upward volcanic activity because it produces lava flows, powerful eruptions and volcanic pits.

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