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Ancient Impact Thought to Have Changed the Face of Mars

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Researchers have long struggled to explain the reason why the northern and southern hemispheres of Mars look so different. Now they think they may finally have an answer. Ideastream's Gretchen Cuda reports.

Monday, June 30, 2008 at 5:00 am

There is new evidence that the two-faced surface of the planet Mars was the result of an enormous impact some 4 billion years ago. Three papers in last week's issue of the journal Nature come to the same conclusion: an asteroid or comet struck the planet blasting away much of the northern crust and leaving a hole the size of Asia, Europe and Australia combined. Scientists have been debating whether the differences between the north and south surfaces of Mars are the result of volcanic activity or impact for more than two decades - Now, three separate teams of researchers using sophisticated computer models have come to the same conclusion. Steven Hauck, a planetary Geologist at Case Western University says this research helps provide a better overall understanding of planetary evolution

HAUCK: It gives some hints towards some things that could be very important towards understanding the other planetary bodies and major processes that happened very early in planetary formation.

The impact that struck mars is estimated to be equivalent to an explosion of roughly 100 trillion megatons of TNT. Gretchen Cuda 90.3