This Week in Space

Mar 15th 2024

This Week in Space 102

A New Volcano on Mars!

Hosted by Rod Pyle, Tariq Malik

Dr. Pascal Lee's Journey to Uncover a Volcanic Colossus

New episodes posted every Friday.
Guests: Pascal Lee
Category: News

Thought you knew all about Mars? Think again. Despite thousands of people poring through thousands of images from a flock of Mars orbiters over the decades, Dr. Pascal Lee and his associates found intriguing features in a region of complex terrain between Mars' Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, and the western extent of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon. First, he spotted a relict glacier, covered with volcanic ash, and in a single day, realized he'd found a recently active volcano not previously identified--and how was this missed? Pascal will fill us in on the gritty details. This exciting discovery has wide-ranging implications, including the possibility of finding life nearby. Join us for this first-anywhere media reveal of the newest major feature on the Red Planet!

Headline: SpaceX's Starship Test Flight

  • SpaceX conducted its third test flight of the Starship and Super Heavy launch system, successfully reaching orbital speed but losing both vehicles during re-entry
  • The Starship reached orbital velocity and performed several test objectives, including a Starlink satellite dispenser demonstration and in-vehicle propellant transfer
  • The test flight, while not perfect, represents a significant step forward for SpaceX's Mars ambitions, though there is still a long way to go before Starship is ready for crewed missions

Main Topic: Dr. Pascal Lee's Discovery of a Giant Volcano on Mars

  • Dr. Lee and his team discovered a previously unknown volcano on Mars, measuring 450 km (280 miles) in diameter and rising 9,000 meters above the surrounding terrain
  • The volcano, located in the Noctis Labyrinthus region near Valles Marineris, has been hiding in plain sight since the Mariner 9 mission in 1971
  • The discovery was made while studying a nearby glacier, which is likely related to the volcanic activity in the area
  • The volcano's heavily eroded state suggests a long history of activity, with evidence of recent eruptions and the potential for ongoing activity
  • The presence of a glacier and potential for residual heat make this site a compelling target in the search for extant life on Mars
  • Dr. Lee proposes this location as an ideal site for future human exploration, offering access to both ancient and potentially modern life on Mars
  • The discovery highlights the importance of volcanic regions on Mars for understanding the planet's geological history and potential for harboring life
  • Dr. Lee and his team have submitted the name "Noctis Mons" for the newly discovered volcano, pending approval from the International Astronomical Union (IAU)

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