Home>Science/Nature>Science news: Fresh satellite images reveal LOST CONTINENTS hidden underneath Antarctica | Science | News

Science news: Fresh satellite images reveal LOST CONTINENTS hidden underneath Antarctica | Science | News

The European Agency (ESA) released groundbreaking satellite images which reveal a whole new set of information regarding the ancient continents, going back as much as 180 million years ago. According to ESA, these masses are just one mile (1.6km) underneath Antartica, but they have never been traced before. The snaps will reveal fresh information about Antarctica, the sixth and “least understood continent on Earth”, the scientists claimed. 

Fausto Ferraccioli, Science Leader of Geology and Geophysics at the British Antarctic Survey, said: “These gravity images are revolutionising our ability to study the least understood continent on Earth: Antarctica. 

“In East Antarctica, we see an exciting mosaic of geological features that reveal fundamental similarities and differences between the crust beneath Antarctica and other continents it was joined to until 160 million years ago.”

Among the groundbreaking discoveries ESA made, there is new information on Gondwana, a supercontinent that housed what is now Antarctica.

According to ESA, Antarctica and Australia remained linked as recently as 55 million years ago, despite the landmass splitting about 130 years ago. 

ESA was also able to reveal West Antarctica has a thinner crust than East Antarctica.

This discovery links this side of the southern icy continent to Australia and India, as they share with it the type of crust.

ESA used vital data gathered by the Gravity field and Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), the first ESA’s satellite which mapped the Earth’s gravity field from 2009 to 2013, when it plummeted into Earth after it ran out of fuel.

The images helped scientists to map put the movements of Earth’s tectonic plates under Antartica. 

They then combined the readings with seismological data to create 3D maps of our planet’s lithosphere, the so-called crust and molten boiling mantle of the Earth.

But these findings may help not just to examine Antarctica but also to have a “fresh” look on Earth.

GOCE mission scientist Roger Haagmans said: “It is exciting to see that direct use of the gravity gradients, which were measured for the first time ever with GOCE, leads to a fresh independent look inside Earth – even below a thick sheet of ice.

“It also provides context of how continents were possibly connected in the past before they drifted apart owing to plate motion.”  

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