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Curiosity rover finds surprising evidence of ancient continental crust on Mars

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posted on Jul, 17 2015 @ 11:30 AM
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This is a very tremendous find that leads to a lot more questions and answers about our neighboring planet, Mars.




A few months ago, NASA scientists noticed some surprisingly light-colored rocks in a photograph. They shouldn’t have been so light, by their understanding of the area’s geology — and so naturally, these scientists sent Curiosity to go and blast those rocks with a laser. The onboard “ChemCam” experiment then looked into the chemical composition of the vaporized rock this produced — and what it found looked surprisingly familiar. Though it has long been believed that Mars never had distinct continental plates, this new evidence suggests that Mars may once have had continents much like those on primordial Earth.

Source



Now, although that may suggest liquid oceans separated this continent from either others, there is still no evidence within this discovery that suggests these oceans existed.



Some commentators are jumping from this observation to the idea that with continents must come liquid oceans between those continents, but this study doesn’t actually present any evidence in favor of that idea. What it does say is that spectral analysis of 22 light-colored rocks found near the Gale Crater show a high feldspar content, and likely quartz content too, and that the samples bear a striking overall resemblance to a type of Earth rock called Tonalite-Trondhjemite-Granodiorite (TTG). TTG is characteristic of Earth continental crust formations from this planet’s Archaen period, which ended some 2.5 billion years ago.


Nevertheless, this discovery does suggest that mars may have once been very much like earth!




Mars had been widely theorized to be mostly “basaltic,” made of dark, relatively dense igneous rock of the sort found on Earth’s ocean floors. There was little support for the idea of distinct continental plates on Mars, even in the planet’s ancient history, but that seems to be the simplest explanation for this week’s reported findings. The light, granite-like rocks seem to suggest that around 4 billion years ago, Mars could have been much more Earth-like than previously believed.


edit on 17/7/15 by Ghost147 because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 17 2015 @ 11:43 AM
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Isn't Mars one big continent?



posted on Jul, 17 2015 @ 11:54 AM
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I was hoping that they found an old Martian map of some sorts scribed into the stone



Interesting nonetheless!



posted on Jul, 17 2015 @ 04:07 PM
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originally posted by: intrptr
Isn't Mars one big continent?



There has been some evidence previously discovered that suggests Mars shows some aspects of plate tectonics.

Plate Tectonics on Mars

I think it's possible that an early Mars (4 Billion years ago, which is the age of the rock being studied in this new evidence mentioned in the OP) may have had more dynamic movement of continental plates.


edit on 7/17/2015 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 17 2015 @ 04:20 PM
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I had a funny idea pop into my head the other day that Mars once had a much larger moon, and it was able to create tides and so on. It was just an idea. I have no idea if that might be the case, or how somebody could even tell if that might have happened. It's gone now, somehow, if there was one.



posted on Jul, 17 2015 @ 07:07 PM
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a reply to: Soylent Green Is People


There has been some evidence previously discovered that suggests Mars shows some aspects of plate tectonics.

The pics I see look fractured alright. The whole surface has been hammered by countless large impactors. Everything looks shattered, disheveled, strewn with the debris and detritus.




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