The detection of volcanic activity on Mars means that a heat source below the Martian surface could provide exactly the conditions necessary for microbial life. This discovery is reported in the scientific publication Nature Astronomy.
Decades ago, scientists thought there might be life on Mars, but new research supports the idea that ancient aliens might have lived deep below the surface of Mars.
Beneath the Red Planet’s northern plains, scientists have discovered a massive 4,000 kilometer reservoir of molten rock that provides the exact conditions in which microbes are known to thrive on Earth.
The discovery of this volcanically heated environment is the most encouraging news for researchers looking for life in the solar system.
Co-author of the new study, Professor Jeff Andrews-Hannah, said: “Microbes on Earth thrive in these conditions. This may also be the case on Mars.”
His colleague, Dr Adrian Broquet, added: “Our study presents ample evidence pointing to the presence of a colossal mantle plume active on present-day Mars. »
Mars has long been considered a geologically “dead” planet, as it has not experienced an earthquake or volcanic activity in the last 3 billion years. A new study suggests that the fourth planet from the Sun is alive and well.
Professor Andrews-Hanna said: “We have strong evidence of mantle plume activity on Earth and Venus. But this is unexpected for a planet as cold as Mars.”
Now scientists have come to the conclusion that volcanic activity is still ongoing on Mars, potentially creating favorable conditions for microbial life.
Dr Broke said: “Intense volcanic activity early in the planet’s history led to the formation of the highest volcanoes in the solar system and blanketed much of the northern hemisphere in volcanic deposits. »
The Elysium Planitia region is close to the Red Planet’s equator. Unlike other volcanic regions on Mars, which have shown no significant activity for billions of years, major eruptions have occurred here in the past 200 million years.
Professor Andrews-Hanna said a team of researchers had previously found evidence of the youngest volcanic eruption known to scientists in the Elysium Planitia area.
“It was a small ejection of volcanic ash about 53,000 years ago, which is yesterday in geologic time,” she said.
Dr Broquet added: “We know that there is no plate tectonics on Mars, so we investigated whether the activity we observe in the Cerberus Fossae region could be the result of a mantle plume. »
The researchers obtained seismic data recorded by the InSight lander which touched down on the Red Planet four years ago. It turned out that InSight landed just above an active mantle plume.
The discovery was reported in Nature Astronomy.