Mars’ crust is more complex than previously thought

(ORDO NEWS) — The early crust of Mars may be more complex than previously thought. Scientists suggest that it may be similar to the original crust of the Earth.

The basaltic surface of Mars is the result of billions of years of volcanic activity. Because Mars did not undergo a full-scale surface reconstruction similar to the shifting of the continents on Earth, scientists thought that the history of the Martian crust was relatively simple.

In a new study, scientists have found locations in the Red Planet’s southern hemisphere with higher concentrations of silicon than would be expected in a purely basaltic environment.

The concentration of silica was revealed thanks to meteorites that crashed into Mars and exposed layers that lay deep under the surface.

Scientists believe that Mars formed about 4.5 billion years ago. How exactly the Red Planet came into being remains a mystery, but there are some theories.

One idea is that Mars was formed as a result of a titanic collision of rocks in space, which created an ocean of magma. The magma ocean gradually cooled, forming a crust that should have been exclusively basaltic.

Another theory is that the magma ocean was not all-encompassing, and that parts of the first crust on Mars had a different origin, in which the concentration of silica differed from that of basalt.

Valerie Payret, author of the study, and her colleagues analyzed data collected by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter about the planet’s southern hemisphere, which previous studies have shown to be the oldest region on Mars.

The researchers found nine sites, such as craters and fissures, that were rich in feldspar.

Feldspar had previously been found in other regions of Mars, but further analysis showed that the chemistry in these regions was more basaltic.

Using THEMIS, the team was able to determine that the soil at their chosen locations was siliceous rather than basaltic.

The researchers also estimated the age of the crust at about 4.2 billion years.

Payre says she was a little surprised by this discovery: “There have been rovers on the surface that have observed rocks that have more silicon than basalt.

So there were ideas that the crust could be more siliceous. But we still don’t know, how the early crust formed and how old it is, so it’s still kind of a mystery.”


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