Academic journal article Science and Children

Great Tilt Gave Mars a New Face

Academic journal article Science and Children

Great Tilt Gave Mars a New Face

Article excerpt

Mars hasn't always looked the way it does today. Three to 3.5 billion years ago, the surface of Mars tilted by 20 to 25[degrees] and changed the appearance of the Red Planet.

The Tharsis volcanic dome created the tilt. Volcanic activity from the Tharsis dome formed a plateau exceeding 5,000 km in diameter, with a thickness of about 12 km, and a mass of a billion billion tons. This mass was so huge that it caused Mars' crust and mantle to swivel around, akin to turning the flesh of an apricot around its stone. Consequently, the dome shifted to the equator, corresponding to its new equilibrium position.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Before this tilt, the poles of Mars were not in the same place as they are today. The discovery of this huge shift changes our vision of Mars during the first billion years of its history.

For the first time, for instance, the researchers show that the Red Planet's rivers were originally distributed along a south tropical band that rotated around poles shifted by about 20[degrees]. …

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