A view from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of a landslide in Cerberus Fossae on Mars.

Mars sports a huge hidden plume of hot rock

A plume of scorching hot rock as wide as the continental United States is rising near Mars’ core and could help explain recent volcanism and earthquakes seen on the Red Planet, scientists say.

Most volcanism on March occurred during the first 1.5 billion years of its history, leaving behind giant monuments such as Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the solar system. However, scientists largely believed that Mars had cooled since then, essentially becoming dead over the past 3 billion years or so. But in recent years, scientists have seen hints of geological activity after all, and now scientists have found a mushroom-shaped pillar of hot, floating rock beneath a region called Elysium Planitia that could explain the recent findings.

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