Gargantuan volcano on Mars found hidden ‘in plain sight,’ and it could hold potential signs of life

by Emily Cooke at

Scientists have discovered a giant volcano on Mars that has been “hidden in plain sight” for more than 50 years. 

The volcano is around 280 miles (450 kilometers) wide and more than 29,600 feet (9,000 meters) high. It is located in the eastern part of Mars’ Tharsis volcanic province near the planet’s equator, scientists revealed at the 55th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held in Texas between March 11 and 15. 

The team also spotted what appears to be the remains of a sheet of buried glacier ice near the base of the volcano. They believe this could make the volcano a “prime location” for astrobiological research and the search for signs of alien life

“This combined giant volcano and possible glacier ice discovery is significant, as it points to an exciting new location to study Mars’ geologic evolution through time, search for life, and explore with robots and humans in the future,” the scientists said in a statement.

Spacecraft orbiting Mars have been unknowingly imaging the volcano ever since NASA’s Mariner 9 was sent to the Red Planet in 1971. However, the volcano is so deeply eroded that it has slipped under the radar, until now.