Mars meteor’s billion-year eruption tale

Mars meteor’s billion-year eruption tale
February 6, 2017 Bridget Jensen

A new scientific report regarding Mars identified a volcanic eruption lasting 2 billion years.

An unusual meteorite sparked this discovery. “The 6.9 oz meteorite, labeled Northwest Africa by an international team of scientists,” according to a Purdue University, contained  evidence of exposure to cosmic rays and magma-formation evidence that leads reachers to conclude that “Mars had a single volcano that erupted continuously for more than 2 billion years.”

An impact of some kind caused this little meteor and 10 others to be dislodged from the surface of Mars and released into the atmosphere.

What an astonishing find.

The 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite was about twice as old as the others that made the same journey opening up a whole new chapter in what we know about Mars.

Martian meteorite “Northwest Africa 7635,” discovered in Algeria in 2012, has allowed an international team of scientists to gain new insights into the geologic history of Mars. (Photo courtesy of Mohammed Hmani)

“Even though we’ve never had astronauts walk on Mars, we still have pieces of the Martian surface to study, thanks to these meteorites,” Mark Caffee, co-author of the Purdue team’s study told USA Today.

Mars is home to the largest volcano in our solar system, Olympus Mons. The formation is 17 miles tall, leading some scientists to speculate that the palm-size small meteorite found in Algeria in 2012 may have come from Olympus Mons. There are no conclusions thus far regarding that possibility, but the meteorite revealed evidence of its age, magma type, time in space and how long it’s been on earth.

An aerial view of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system. The image was taken by the Viking 1 Orbiter. (Photo: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/USGS)


This information gathered from the 6.5 oz meteor indicates that some of the oldest volcanos in our solar system  can be found on Mars, the red planet.

Every year about 1,000 meteors are found in Antarctica and  portions of North Africa.

Only a small number of them are actually noteworthy. These  mostly come from Mars and the moon, according to Caffee. The unusual ones are sent to NASA, the others to the Smithsonian.

“These meteorites are allowing us to conduct geologic science on the surface of Mars,” Caffee said, “and we haven’t even been there yet.”

Bridget Jensen
Bridget Jensen, 23, of Palmer, Alaska, has nearly completed work on her associates degree in computer technology. She is continuing her studies in Arts and Sciences at UAF, working towards an interdisciplinary bachelors degree. Jensen has a strong passion for photography and outdoor activities. One day she hopes to take her photography to the next level.


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