The cause of a mysterious rock formation on Mars that NASAdeemed "an enigmatic pile of eroding sediments" and UFO hunters strongly believe is an extraterrestrial spacecraft was likely caused by volcanic activity on the planet billions of years ago, researchers say.
"The presence of a pyroclastic deposit of this scale on Mars has important implications for our understanding of the planet's volcanic history, its interior, and volatile content", the co-authors wrote in the conclusion of the study.
Discovered back in the 1960s by NASA's Mariner spacecraft, the formation stretches near Mars' equator and consists of oddly shaped hills and mesas. The formation is about one-fifth as large as the continental United States and 100 times more massive than the largest explosive volcanic deposit on Earth, making it the largest known explosive volcanic deposit in the solar system, according to the authors of the study.
"This is a massive deposit", Ojha said in a statement, "not only on a Martian scale, but also in terms of the solar system, because we do not know of any other deposit that is like this".
American experts managed to explain the phenomenon of formation on Mars the structure of the Medusae Fossae: it was created as a result of volcanic eruptions and led to the emergence of bodies of water and life.
Meanwhile, they could have spewed out enough water to cover the entire planet in an ocean more than 4 inches thick, according to Ojha. For one, they would have emitted enough volcanic gas to warm the Martian climate, as well fundamentally alter the chemistry of its surface and atmosphere.
Ojha, therefore, concluded that toxic gasses and water underneath Mars would have affected the planet's potential for habitability.
Every so often, UFO fans get their knickers in a twist about a "crashed spaceship" on the surface of Mars - as images surface of a unusual rock formation near the equator. Previous radar measurements suggested an unusual composition, but researchers were unable to tell whether it was made up of low-density, porous rockets or a mixture of ice and rock. They also used radar and gravity data in combination to show the Medusae Fossae's density can not be explained by the presence of ice, which is much less dense than rock. The molten magma detonates high up in the sky ejecting out rock and hot ashes. As much as half of the soft rock originally deposited during the eruptions has eroded away, leaving behind the hills and valleys seen in the Medusae Fossae today.
Mars environment is more multifaceted than the scientist thought.
"If you were to distribute the Medusae Fossae globally, it would make a 9.7-metre thick layer". Carbon dioxide and water from the deep crust of Mars helps in the eruption of the volcanic matter says Kevin Lewis, again a planetary scientist from the University of John Hopkins.
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