Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mars and Moon: Not Dead Yet?

In their study of the solar system, my students learn that Earth is the only terrestrial planet that's still undeniably churning with geologic activity. Sure, there have been hints of occasionally stirrings elsewhere — a Martian landslide caught in the act, or changes in the Venusian atmosphere that might signal a volcanic eruption. But there's really nothing that geologists can point to and say, "Hey, that's new!"

Their thinking goes that Mercury, Mars, and the Moon were once quite hot and and their interiors partially molten. However, since all three are much smaller than Earth, they all cooled off long ago. No heat source, no geologic activity. (The jury is still out on Venus, whose clouds hide its surface from view.)

But the Moon and Mars might not be completely dead, according to what's turned up recently in super-high-resolution detailed closeups from orbiting spacecraft.


Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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