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New observations of the Mars reveal evidence of volcanic eruptions on that world during the last 50,000 years. This remarkably short period of time (on geological or astronomical scales) could alter our views of the geology — and potential biology — of the Red Planet.

Three to four billion years before our time, volcanoes erupted across the surface of the Red Planet. Smaller, more localized, eruptions continued until three million years ago. But, little evidence was found suggesting that volcanoes on Mars remain geologically active today.

“Volcanic activity on Mars peaked during the Noachian and Hesperian periods but has continued since then in isolated locales. Elysium Planitia hosts numerous young, fissure-fed flood lavas with ages ranging from approximately 500 to 2.5 million years [ago],” researchers describe in a study published in the journal Icarus.