Massive Martian volcanoes reshaped the Red Planet billions of years ago into what it is today, new research shows.
Powerful volcanic activity literally moved the planet, according to a study published in the journal of Nature on Wednesday. These findings join a list of other factors that may have changed Mars into the cold, dry planet we now know.
A large volcanic structure known as the Tharsis volcanic dome caused the Red Planet’s surface to tilt by 20 to 25 degrees 3 billion to 3.5 billion years ago.
Tharsis is home to the largest volcanoes in our solar system, and because of their mass they were able to spew out so much lava that the outer layers of Mars rotated around its core.
Imagine if you had a peach and you twisted the fruit’s flesh around its pit — that’s what happened to Mars.
Tharsis dome formed 3.7 billion years ago, and from there hundreds of millions of years of volcanic activity created a plateau on the Red Planet that weighed a billion billion tons. For reference, that’s about 1/70th the mass of Earth’s moon. This mass was so huge, that is caused the planet’s mantle and crust to swivel around, changing the position of the planet’s poles and moving Tharsis dome onto the planet’s equator.
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SOURCE: CNN, Jareen Imam