Mars may have ACTIVE volcanoes 'with magma flowing beneath surface today' as recent eruption revealed

VOLCANOES on Mars may still be active, raising the possibility that aliens recently lived on the planet, according to research.

Scientists found evidence that eruptions took place on Earth's dry and dusty neighbour as recently as 50,000 years ago.

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Most volcanism on the Red Planet occurred between three and four billion years ago, with smaller eruptions continuing up to three million years ago.

But, until now, there was no evidence to indicate Mars could still be volcanically active.

Researchers at the University of Arizona and the Planetary Science Institute scanned the surface of Mars using data from orbiting satellites.

Specifically, they analysed images of the relatively featureless equatorial plains of a region known as Elysium Planitia.

The team discovered a previously unknown pile of ancient ash and rock known as a volcanic deposit that's up to 50,000 years old.

If their calculations are correct, it would mean that volcanic eruptions were occurring on Mars more recently than we thought.

"This may be the youngest volcanic deposit yet documented on Mars," said study lead author Dr David Horvath.

"If we were to compress Mars' geologic history into a single day, this would have occurred in the very last second."

Scientists believe the eruption was caused by gases in the Martian magma, or when the magma came into contact with permafrost at the surface.

The resulting explosion produced an 8-mile-wide, smooth, dark deposit surrounding a 20-mile-long volcanic fissure.

Ash and rock would have been flung up to six miles into the Martian atmosphere, according to the researchers.

Having occurred so recently, the find hints that magma may still flow under the surface of Mars today.

Mars facts

Here’s what you need to know about the Red Planet…

  • Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun
  • It is named after the Roman god of war
  • The landmass of Mars is very similar to Earth but due to the difference in gravity you could jump three times higher there than you can here
  • Mars is mountainous and hosts the tallest mountain known in the Solar System called Olympus Mons, which is three times higher than Everest
  • Mars is considered to be the second most habitable planet after Earth
  • It takes the planet 687 Earth days to orbit the Sun
  • So far, there has been 39 missions to Mars but only 16 of these have been successful

"The young age of this deposit absolutely raises the possibility that there could still be volcanic activity on Mars," Dr Horvath said.

The discovery also suggests that conditions below the surface of the distant world may have been habitable in its recent history.

That's because magma rising from beneath may have melted ice at the planet's surface, creating a favourable environment for microbial life.

"This does not necessarily confirm past life on Mars, but does imply an environment conducive to habitability," Dr Horvath told Space.com.

The research was published earlier this month in the journal Icarus.

Mars is of particular interest to scientists as it offers the chance to teach us how life may develop on other planets.

Scientists believe microbes may have grown there billions of years ago when it was covered in water and had an atmosphere, like Earth.

Nasa's Perseverance rover touched down on Mars in February and will look for signs of past life. China landed its first rover on the planet last week.

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In other space news, a Nasa spacecraft has begun a 1.4billion-mile journey back to Earth after collecting rock samples from an ancient asteroid.

Nasa has released historic first audio recordings captured on the surface of Mars.

And, China and Russia have pledged to build a shared Moon base, marking the start of a new era in space cooperation between the two countries.

Would you take a one-way trip to Mars? Let us know in the comments…

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