For thousands of years, Martian rocks have bombarded Earth, sent flying through space after being ejected from their homeworld by violent impacts or volcanic processes. But as we collect these tiny samples, scientists have started to learn something interesting: the age of these Martian rocks doesn’t line up with what we know about Mars’ age as a whole. They’re a lot younger.
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Mars is really old. Scientists believe the planet finished forming around 4. 56 billion years ago, roughly 90 million years before our own planet. Evidence suggests that the majority of Martian’s surface is very old. So, why are chunks of Martian rock showing such a young age?
The constant bombardment by asteroids and meteorites of the Martian surfaces is the most likely explanation, say scientists. With roughly 200 bombardments that create 4-meter craters each year, the Martian surface is constantly spewing more rock into space, some of which finds its way to Earth. It’s because younger rocks are replacing older ones as they’re ejected by the planet that the Martian age does not seem to match up.
The younger rock, still replenished from volcanic activity under the planet’s surface, eventually reaches the surface. It is then ejected into space by meteorites. This, a group of scientists explain in a paper published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, could help us understand why the Martian rocks found on Earth appear so young.
Understanding how Mars is changing – both inside and out – is important as NASA and others prepare for the first manned missions to Mars. Scientists are also constantly searching for ways to better understand the formation of the planets in our solar system and what they can tell us about the evolution of the universe as a entire.
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