- Troops told not to eat, drink in front of Muslims during Ramadan
- Iran’s Rouhani: Israel, Islamic State are ‘tumors derived from the same origin’
- Rep. Tim Murphy: GOP knew HealthCare.gov would be an ‘unmitigated disaster’
- Political speak: Planned Parenthood dumps ‘pro-choice’ for ‘women’s health’
- U.S. attorney warns Cuomo not to interfere with anti-corruption probes
- Investigators reach Ukraine jet crash site
- Ohio gives Obama a thumbs down; Hillary Clinton tops GOP all-stars: poll
- Jesse Ventura suggests suit not over; HarperCollins could be next
- ‘No American is proud’ of certain CIA tactics: State Department
- Drug-filled drone crash outside S.C. prison sends police on alert
Student researcher spies odd lava spirals on Mars
Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A researcher has spotted lava flows shaped like coils of rope near the equator of Mars, the first time such geologic features have been discovered outside of Earth.
These twisty volcanic patterns can be found on Hawaii's Big Island and in the Pacific seafloor on our planet. While evidence for lava flows is present in many places on Mars, none are shaped like this latest find.
"I was quite surprised and puzzled when I first saw the coils," Andrew Ryan, a graduate student at Arizona State University, said in an email. He reported the discovery in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
The biggest surprise? The largest Martian lava spiral measured 100 feet across _ bigger than any on Earth. It is further evidence that Mars was volcanically active recently _ geologically speaking within the past 20 million years.
For more than a decade, scientists debated whether this maze of valleys near the Martian equator was sculpted by ice or volcanic processes.
As part of a class project last year, Ryan analyzed about 100 high-resolution photos of the region snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been photographing the Martian surface since 2006. One evening, while taking a second look at the images, Ryan zoomed in and noticed the lava coils. He counted 269 spirals ranging from 16 feet to 100 feet across.
Ryan said he was not surprised the features were overlooked in the past since they blended in with the terrain. The coils looked strikingly similar to Hawaiian lava flows, leading Ryan to conclude that lava _ not ice _ was the driving force.
Planetary scientist David Paige of the University of California, Los Angeles, said the new work provides convincing evidence that the curious patterns were forged from volcanic activity.
This "illustrates just how complicated Mars' geologic history appears to really be," Paige wrote in an email. He was not part of the research team.
It's believed that rivers of molten lava flowed through the Martian valleys into a broad basin where they settled and formed the coil shapes. The spiral shapes were preserved as the lava cooled.
There are no clear signs that the region today is volcanically active. With more observations, Ryan said it is possible lava coils may exist elsewhere on the red planet.
Science journal: http://www.sciencemag.org
Follow Alicia Chang's coverage at http://www.twitter.com/SciWriAlicia
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- Al Gore's climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- GOP report sees ties between rich donors, green 'nonprofits'
- NAPOLITANO: Is the president incompetent or lawless?
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- EDITORIAL: The real Lois Lerner exposed in newly released emails
- House votes to sue President Obama over claims of presidential power
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world