Plate Tectonics on Mars

When I did a course in Astrophysics the only place that plate tectonics existed was the earth. This it was said was one of the reasons life existed on Earth and if it was to exist elsewhere plate tectonics would be needed.

A scientist has now found that plate tectonics exist on Mars. A tectonically active planet’s surface is broken up into large parts which move around. When these plates touch, mountains, sometimes volcanic, are created and in the short-term earthquakes occur.

Mars

Mars

Mars exists in an early state of tectonics development and movement. He gives a glimpse of how the earth looked some time ago. The discovery was found by comparing images from a NASA spacecraft known as THEMIS (Time history of events and macro scale interactions during sub storms!) And HIRISE (high resolution imaging science experiment) on NASA’s Mars reconnaissance orbiter. About 100 satellite images were compared 12 indicating plate tectonics.

Smooth, flat sides of canyon walls could be seen which could only be generated by a fault and a steep cliff which is comparable to cliffs in California’s death Valley. These features are not seen anywhere else on other planets in our solar system other than earth and Mars (yet).

This brings about questions about the Valles Marineris which is the longest and deepest canyon in our solar system. This was thought to be a crack but could be due to plate tectonics.

Mars Plate Tectonics

Mars Valles Marineris Showing the Fault

Inside the Trench

Inside the Trench

Mars quakes are a very real probability so lets hope the martians have built quake resistant habitation.

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  1. What a pity that the Curiosity Rover’s power supply didn’t come with an external socket to keep on driving. That not being possible use sessile stance for other technology. We could have sent a follow up power supply. It would have been a very small vehicle. Very cost effective. Double sided solar panelled and wheels, ideal for steep territory, self correcting if toppled. With an autonomous rechargeable or one use supply check out natural cavernous or cave system/layers/tectonics. An easy low cost way to start terraforming Mars is to seed its water carrying polar caps with polar photosynthetic bacteria from Earth. Any geological thermal sources cropping up on the surface of Mars from its newly described tectonic geology could be used as power sources for all introduced Earth life forms so try and combine first settlements with those of water source locations.

  2. Tom D says:

    Huh? Curiosity’s nuclear power supply could keep it driving around for years. It doesn’t need a recharge. Do you mean that it would be nice if the Curiosity rover could itself recharge other vehicles that could go where we fear to send Curiosity? If so, then I agree that would be an interesting possibility to consider for other, future vehicles. I imagine that the devil will be in the details.

  3. katesisco says:

    As for tectonics, did a picture of one of Saturn’s moons show what appeared to be an equatorial disparity? To me it looked like a discontinuity between the N & S hemispheres. I would think that is what Mars has acquired. further info would be welcome.
    I theorize that a moving energy field compressed the entire heliosphere of Sol. Moving over the planets in their orbits toward the sun, this field leaves planets exposed to cosmic rays and expansion. I believe the expansion is the source of the 7 puzzle pieces of Earth’s lithosphere.

  4. chris dann says:

    what sort of energy field?

  5. Denice says:

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