Updated March 15th, 2024 at 15:40 IST

Hidden Giant: “Noctis Volcano” Unveiled Near Mars Equator, Unveiling Secrets of Martian Geology

SETI Institute discovers massive Noctis volcano near Mars' equator, shedding light on Martian geology and potential for life.

Reported by: Garvit Parashar
Scientist Unveiled Volcano Near Mars Equator, Unveiling Secrets of Mars | Image:Instagram: setiinstitute
Advertisement

The space exploration field is becoming more and more exciting with every passing day. And adding to it, Just now some of the scientists at SETI Institute have spotted a huge volcano that was hidden in the ‘plain sight’ for years. And the interesting part is this volcano is near to Mars's equator. This newly explored volcano is named “Noctis volcano”, and is 29,600 ft high and has a width of 450 kilometers.

These new findings were announced at the 55th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held in Texas, USA. The scientists are believing that they’ll be able to find a buried glacier under this volcanic provenance. The recent examinations of the volcano states that it has seen eruptions but it’s still not clear whether it is still active or not.

Advertisement

This discovery is considered as very enlightening for studying the geology of Mars and the evolution of the red planet over the years. In a press statement Dr. Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute said, “We were examining the geology of an area where we had found the remains of a glacier last year when we realized we were inside a huge and deeply eroded volcano.”

For quite some time, scientists have harbored suspicions regarding the presence of volcanoes just south of the equator on the planet. Sourabh Shubham, a student at the University of Maryland’s Department of Geology involved in the recent discovery of the volcano, remarked that this particular area of the red planet is "known to have a wide variety of hydrated minerals" and that a "volcanic setting for these minerals had long been suspected." He further noted that the identification of the volcano is akin to finding a "long-sought ‘smoking gun’".

Discussing the remarkable aspects of the Noctis volcano site, Dr. Lee stated, "It’s an ancient and long-lived volcano so deeply eroded that you could hike, drive, or fly through it to examine, sample, and date different parts of its interior to study Mars’ evolution through time." He elaborated that given the volcano's extensive history of interaction with water and ice, it represents a prime location for astrobiological research or the quest for signs of life. Additionally, he remarked, "Finally, with glacier ice likely still preserved near the surface in a relatively warm equatorial region on Mars, the place is looking very attractive for robotic and human exploration."

Advertisement

It is noteworthy that in 2022, a groundbreaking study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology suggested the presence of magma flowing deep beneath Mars’ surface. Published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the research indicated that the magma beneath the red planet might be a result of volcanic activity occurring within the last 50,000 years. Fast forward two years later, and scientists have now identified a new volcano on Mars.
 

Advertisement

Published March 15th, 2024 at 15:40 IST