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Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, The Birth of a New Island

In late December 2014 into early 2015, a submarine volcano in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga erupted, sending a violent stream of steam, ash and rock into the air. When the ash finally settled in January 2015, a newborn island with a 400-foot summit nestled between two older islands – visible to satellites in space.

The newly formed Tongan island, unofficially known as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai after its neighbors, was initially projected to last a few months. Now it has a 6- to 30-year lease on life, according to a new NASA study.

From NASA Goddard, learn about the birth of this new volcanic island and how it’s related to Mars… specifically potential insights into how land, bodies of water, and/or life on Mars might have developed. Former NASA Goddard Chief Scientist Dr. James Garvin explains.

Next: Building a Volcano-bot, Hawaii – The Pace of Formation, In Search of Water on Mars, and what did Mars look like 4 billion years ago?

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