If you think space is the final frontier, you might be in for a disappointment.

While NASA's Curiosity rover is snapping shots of a crater and hoping to find earth-like life on the Red Planet, UCLA scientists have discovered it has a lot in common with Southern California.

It turns out Mars has tectonic plates. And that means …

… earthquakes! Or, as UCLA calls them, “Mars-quakes.”

The discovery of faults and plates was announced by the school last week. An Yin, professor of Earth and space sciences, made the find with the help of the Thermal Emission Imaging System, an instrument aboard not the infamous Curiosity rover but via the Odyssey orbiter.

Strange timing, huh?

Anyway, Yin said he found out that “the features looked very much like fault systems I have seen in the Himalayas and Tibet, and in California as well, including the geomorphology.”

While the plates and faults aren't fully developed like ours, that could be a good thing. He says:

Mars is at a primitive stage of plate tectonics. It gives us a glimpse of how the early Earth may have looked and may help us understand how plate tectonics began on Earth.

Mars has far fewer plates, but Yin says “Mars-quakes” are possible.

Welcome to our world, Mars. And, eh, hold strong, Curiosity.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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