Published: Thu, December 14, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

NASA releases video study of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai island

NASA releases video study of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai island

The Earth's newest landmass could give scientists interesting insights about Mars' topography.

NASA is studying an nearly brand new island on Earth, to figure out where it might find life on Mars.

"Volcanic islands are some of the simplest landforms to make", he said.

"Our interest is to calculate how much the 3D landscape changes over time, particularly its volume, which has only been measured a few times at other such islands".

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"We see fields of them on Mars".

The island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai rose from the seabed about 65 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa in late 2014-early 2015.

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

NASA's studies on the island were presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans this week. There have also been up-close examinations to collect samples. Initially, the new island was relatively oval and attached to its neighboring island to the west.

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"Islands like this might have worked on Mars 2 or 3 billion years ago - lakes and small seas filling depressions, persistent surface waters", he said.

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

Initial projections showed the island would last for a few months before crumbling into the sea, but the estimations proved wrong. Scientists estimate that the island could now last for decades. At this point both Garvin and Slayback thought this might be the end of the island.

The new island is perched on the north rim of a caldera on top of an underwater volcano that stands almost 4,600 feet (1,400 meters) above the surrounding the sea floor, according to seaborne bathymetry measurements made by geologist and co-author Vicki Ferrini at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in Palisades, New York, NASA said.

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