The funnel structures are thought to have been formed by volcanic activity and ice deposits
As scientists venture further into the study of Mars, it’s quickly becoming the planet that keeps on giving.
The latest discovery sees the formation of mysterious funnel structures and researchers are coming up with ideas for how these have been formed. The theory is a massive volcano hidden beneath the surface creating the conditions for the funnel formations to occur. But the most exciting idea is if this is true, it could be the best place to look for potential life on the Red Planet.
“We were drawn to this site because it looked like it could host some of the key ingredients for habitability – water, heat and nutrients,” claimed Joseph Levy, lead author of the study and research associate at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics.
The funnels themselves are surrounded by ancient ice deposits that suggests volcanic activity melting away surface ice after the impact of an asteroid – a series of lava and ice to form funnels.
At this stage, it is only a theory, but experts say the depression is similar to structures found on Earth’s surface. 3D imaging is being created to analyze the quantity of material loss due to asteroid impact to help prove the suggestions.
“These landforms caught our eye because they’re weird looking,” Joseph Levy said. “They’re concentrically fractured so they look like a bulls-eye. That can be a very diagnostic pattern you see in Earth materials.”
The hope is that the Hellas basin, where the funnels have been located, and the Galaxias Fossae depression should be strongly considered when manned missions to Mars start taking place. It’s most likely their best bet for finding any elusive life on Mars.
Details of the study were published in the journal Icarus.