The world's newest island - formed during a volcanic eruption in the remote Pacific three years ago - may offer clues to how life potentially developed on Mars, NASA said on Dec 13, 2017.
The island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai rose from the seabed about 65 km northwest of the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa in late 2014 or early 2015.
Scientists initially expected the island - created when vast quantities of rock and dense ash spewed from the earth's crust - to wash away within a few months.
But NASA said it had proved more resilient than expected, possibly because warm sea water combined with ash during the volcanic explosion to create a concrete-like substance known as "tuff".
While the island - which initially measured one km wide, two km long and about 100 metres high - has undergone significant erosion, it is now expected to last anywhere from six to 30 years.
Mars had many similar volcanic islands.