Lava spirals on Mars discovered, first time identified on an extraterrestrial setting (Photo)

By on Apr 27, 2012 in Astronomy, Science Comments

Giant lava spirals have been recently discovered on Mars by NASA‘s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, as shown in the photo below, with researchers now thinking that the coiled features are evidence of a type of lava flow never seen before.

According to on Thursday, April 26, 2012, scientists are now suggesting that these lava spirals on Mars could have been brought about by a mysterious network of valleys on the red planet, just the like ones found in Hawaii.

As noted in the report, NASA‘s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter beamed back to Earth 269 spirals of lava, with study lead author Andrew Ryan noting that each of them measures from 16 to 98 feet wide (5 to 30 meters).

“This is the first time lava coils have been identified on an extraterrestrial setting. The most surprising thing about these features when I first saw them was how well-preserved they are.” Ryan of Arizona State University told

“You can’t see them unless you zoom in really close, and even then they’re really subtle — it’s pretty dusty there, so the images are just a pale gray color, and they don’t really jump out until you boost the contrast, so it’s not surprising at all to me that they’ve been overlooked before,” Ryan added.

“These can only be explained by lava processes. There are no known processes to twist ice around on that scale.” Ryan explained further, noting that the lava spirals on Mars is somehow similar to what have been found in Hawaii back in 1974.

The study, which was also explained in the April 27 issue of the journal Science, is now being believed to be revealing that Athabasca Valles, a region near the equator of Mars, was caused by lava, contrary to what others have been claiming in decades, that it was due to ice-related activity.

Related post: Elephant Face on Mars image taken by NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE camera revealed (Photo)

Lava spirals on Mars, as spotted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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