Birth of new island could offer NASA clues about life on Mars


Located in the South Pacific nation of Tonga, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai began forming after the eruption of an underwater volcano in December, 2014. According to the release, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai and its neighboring islands sit on the rim of a large volcano that rises about a mile above the deep ocean floor.

The Tongan Island happens to be a model for researchers by which they can have a better understanding of the terrain on Mars.

It comes after US President Donald Trump on Monday directed NASA to send Americans to the Moon for the first time since 1972, in order to prepare for future trips to Mars.

Scientists believe that the shallow water around the island is similar to what existed around Martian volcanoes.

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Using satellite images, NASA was able to determine how the volume of the island was shifting and after an initial rapid decrease, the rate of loss decreased, leading experts to conclude the island would last longer than they anticipated. There have also been up-close examinations to collect samples.

Not only that, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai can provide a valuable insight into the geography of Mars.

The volcanic island exploded out of the Pacific Ocean in 2015 and the video reveals how its shape has evolved.

When conditions are right during evolution of volcanic landmass, warm water turns cement-like volcanic ash into resilient rock.

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Scientists now want to understand why Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai hasn't just slipped into the sea and disappeared forever.

This island was, in its first six months, very unstable.

View from the top of tuff cone of the new Tongan island, June 2017.

Looks like Hawaii isn't the only series of islands formed from underwater volcanic eruptions.

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"Islands like this might have worked on Mars two or three billion years ago - lakes and small seas filling depressions, persistent surface waters", he said.