Will Earth’s Lava Flows Decipher Ancient Mars’?


Drones are assisting scientists know Earth’s lava flows, that could tell us some-more about ancient Mars. (Credit: Shuttershock)

Lava flow: an unstoppable mortal force that browns flattering many all in a path. When a volcano erupts, it’s critical that people in surrounding areas have adequate time to evacuate. To yield those essential additional hours, or minutes, researchers are regulating drones to urge jeopardy predictions, and maybe tell us something about life on ancient Mars.

Drones concede volcanologists to map vast areas quickly, low and, many of all, safely regulating magnetometers and thermal cameras. Scientists are even drifting drones by tear plumes to investigate a chemical combination of Earth’s hot, erotic belches.

Go With a Flow

In Aug 2014, Mt. Holuhraun began pouring a blazing runner of lava onto a primitive highlands of northern Iceland. The lava kept issuing into 2015, with no signs of stopping. In all, it incited out to be Iceland’s largest lava upsurge in 230 years, covering some-more than 85 block miles.

“Nobody lives there, and so it didn’t attract a lot of notice, though geologically, it’s intensely significant,” says Christopher Hamilton, a heavenly scientist during a University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. In a midst of a eruption, Hamilton, volcanologist Einat Lev of a Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and their colleagues headed to a towering with a tiny group of drones.

With their quads in tow, a group took moody to collect information from Mt. Holuhraun to see how lava flows respond to tiny changes in topography—like high turf contra prosaic terrain.

(Credit: Christopher Hamilton)

(Credit: Christopher Hamilton)

“I am meditative about how lava interacts with a environment: any kind of obstacles or pre-existing roughness,” says Lev. “If it goes over a 20-degree slope, afterwards it doesn’t unequivocally caring about anything. But if it goes over a 1- or 2-degree slope, afterwards it’s going to be a lot some-more supportive to a tiny features.”

The belligerent around Mt. Holuhraun sloped downward during an roughly inaudible angle. That slight angle interconnected with a landscape’s tiny bumps caused a slower lava flow. That shoal slope also authorised Lev to get some unequivocally high-resolution data, that she says will eventually lead to better, some-more minute jeopardy prophecy models. But creation those models for volcanoes around a universe will need minute maps of their surrounding turf and that’s another place drones can be useful.

If internal volcanologists can use drones to urge maps of a turf around a volcano, afterwards they can be improved prepared to envision where and how fast a lava will upsurge after an eruption, according to Lev. Drones can also fly over lava flows and refurbish those maps during an eruption, vouchsafing volcanologists refurbish those jeopardy predictions scarcely in real-time.


A worker shot of a lava flows. (Credit: Lev Hamilton)

What Happened on Mars?

The information prisoner during Holuhraun competence assistance scientists like Hamilton know another universe entirely. He’s requesting what we’ve schooled from worker flights on Earth to refurbish hydrothermal systems on early Mars.

Iceland’s dry, empty northern highlands make a good analogue for early Mars. When Holuhraun’s lava flowed into Iceland’s largest stream system, it led to changes in a landscape: new prohibited springs, lakes and streams. After belligerent studies of a microbial populations of those bodies of water, biologists detected what competence spin out to be a new class of heat-loving microbes called thermophiles.

Hamilton says recent—within a past 20 million years recent—lava flows have occurred on Mars, that begs a question: Could Mars’ lava flows have combined a identical sourroundings to Iceland’s?

To answer that, he studied how a hydrothermal system created by a volcano altered as a lava upsurge grew and as it cooled. Hamilton’s group has steady a investigate flights once a year to map changes in a lava flow, a heat of hydrothermal vents and prohibited springs, and where H2O went as a lava cooled.

Those results, in turn, competence assistance Hamilton pull some conclusions about how–or whether–life could have found a foothold on Mars’ quickly warm, soppy environment.

  • Lava flow: an unstoppable mortal force” Water sprinklers.
    Model with corn syrup and glass nitrogen.

    tell us something about life on ancient Mars Tell us something about life on Saturn’s moon Titan (methane + ethane “hydrology” where H2O ice is a rock). See? It doesn’t play.

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Posted by on Oct 13 2017. Filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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