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Four updates from Mars

Christina DesMarais | Aug. 13, 2012
In the last week, little has captivated people more than Mars. Since last Sunday, images and news have been pouring out of NASA about Curiosity, the rover that will spend the next two years exploring the red planet, sampling geology and looking for evidence of microbial life.

Other Mars News

While Curiosity wasnt involved, Mars enthusiasts might like knowing that a UCLA scientist has discovered plate tectonics exist on the planet.

"Mars is at a primitive stage of plate tectonics. It gives us a glimpse of how the early Earth may have looked and may help us understand how plate tectonics began on Earth," said An Yin, a UCLA professor of Earth and space sciences and the author of the research.

Yin made the discovery by analyzing about 100 satellite images from THEMIS (Thermal Emission Imaging System), an instrument on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, and from the HIRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The surface of Mars is home to the longest and deepest system of canyons in the solar systemnearly 2500 miles longand scientists have long wondered how it was formed. According to Yin, the long crack is where two plates abut.

"The shell is broken and is moving horizontally over a long distance. It is very similar to the Earth's Dead Sea fault system, which has also opened up and is moving horizontally," he said.

How to Keep up with Mars

NASA has dedicated an entire section of its website to its Mars mission and really everything you'd want to know about it is right there.


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