- Jul 15, 2004
Mars, the red planet, may not after all be the dead planet. New research today by European scientists suggests that volcanoes on Mars last erupted only 2 million years ago and could erupt again. And dramatic photographs by a high-resolution stereoscopic camera aboard the European spacecraft Mars Express, in the journal Nature, suggest that glacial ice could survive on the western scarp of Olympus Mons, the biggest volcano in the solar system. Last week, Nature's US rival Science named the confirmation of water on Mars as the scientific breakthrough of 2004. But the revelation that Mars could be geologically "alive" is even more dramatic. Volcanos eject water and atmospheric gases, recycle mineral nutrients and reshape landscapes. The discovery once again raises the possibility that life might survive on Earth's colder, smaller, dustier neighbour.