Sunday, April 10, 2011

Volcanoes Reveal the Cooling of Mars

The mantle of Mars is possibly cooling by 30-40°C every billion years. Based on satellite observations of the composition of the planet's volcanic rocks, researchers from CNRS and the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse reached this conclusion after reconstructing for the first time the thermal evolution of the planet over the past 4 billion years. These values indicate that cooling is slower than on Earth and highlight the specific nature of our planet, where thermal evolution is affected by plate tectonics. These findings were recently published in the journal Nature.

The history of water and of climate evolution on Mars has received considerable attention over the past few decades. However, the evolution of a planet needs to be considered in its entirety. This requires an understanding of the thermal and dynamic evolution of the planetary interior in relation to volcanic or tectonic activity.

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