Mars formation may have taken a lot longer than previously thought
New models suggest that big knocks Mars took in its early history might have thrown guessing astronomers off track from the red planet's true age.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — The early solar system was a chaotic place with many large-scale collisions. A new study in Science Advances argues that such collisions involving Mars could be why scientists are underestimating the red planet's age.
According to the Southwest Research Institute, Martian meteorites' tungsten content are highly varied. Since tungsten migrates from a planet's mantle to its core during formation, scientists are led to believe that Mars formed rapidly in 2 to 4 million years.
However, the institute's researchers say Mars is known to have experienced large collisions in its early formative history. According to their models, this would have scrambled Mars's mantle and created a heterogeneous, marbled structure.
Subsequently, when later collisions on Mars sent meteorites to Earth, the debris would have contained an uneven quantity of tungsten. Using the new models, the paper's authors claim that Mars may have taken 20 million years to become fully formed.
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