Buried Pear-Like Feature on Mars Is Actually the Sign of a Once-Active Alien World

Pyroclastic cone on Mars 6 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL/UArizona
Tharsis volcanoTharsis Montes trio and Olympus MonsMaterial-filled fractures on the surface of MarsVolcanic eruptions of TharsisTopography of Tharsis region on Mars
When one thinks of Mars, one of the first words that come into mind is dead. The Red Planet has been in a state that is incompatible with life as we know it for probably billions of years, and unless we go there to do something about it, it will probably remain so for billions of years to come.
There was a time though (or so we think) when Mars had oceans, an atmosphere, and possibly even harbored life. For reasons that are lost to unrecorded history, all that potential was wasted long ago, and today not even volcanos are any good.

Once a volcanically active world (sometime between 3 and 4 billion years ago), Mars saw its last major eruption about 50,000 years ago - the discovery, made this year, gives some hope volcanic activity might still be present today.

That pretty much means most of the signs of the tumultuous past need a lot of effort to uncover. Luckily, humanity has a number of technologies on location on and around the planet, and from time to time we do get to see incredible glimpses of Mars’ past.

Like this formation here, which kind of looks like a giant pear buried in the ground long ago. The feature, located in the Tharsis region of the planet, was photographed in March last year using the HiRISE camera up in orbit, at about 262 km (163 miles) from the surface.

According to NASA and the University of Arizona, who run the camera, the feature is actually an old (exact age is undetermined) pyroclastic cone that somehow survived younger volcanism.

Scientists believe the feature formed “on heavily fractured crust that is now hidden under younger lava flows,” and believe is one of few such formations to have survived until our time.

Its study, they say, might “help reveal the stratigraphic sequence and provide better insight about small pyroclastic cones on Mars.”
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Editor's note: Gallery shows the Tharsis region of Mars.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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