Even a cursory look at a global map of Mars reveals how huge its volcanoes are. The famous Olympus Mons rises three times higher than Mt. Everest, and is just one of several volcanoes that adorn the Red Planet's famous Tharsis ridge. Presumably, when these volcanoes were more actively spewing gases such as carbon monoxide and sulfur, they must have had a determining influence on the Martian atmosphere.
A new paper in the journal Icarus suggests that these volcanoes may in fact have created an environment habitable to ancient microbes. Specifically, a new model showing a range of volcanic eruptions shows that Mars' atmosphere could have been made anoxic, with depleted levels of oxygen and limited oxygen-based reactions.
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