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Emerging from an ice age that ended about 400,000 years ago, Mars is also Coming close to Earth

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Mars . Image Source : Wikipedia
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Deep analysis of the image captured on radar shows that the mars is coming out of an ice age due to ongoing climate change, said scientists on Thursday.

According to the research published in the journal Science Martian, ice began its retreat about 370,000 years ago, marking the end of the last ice age.

Using images taken by satellites orbiting Mars, the researchers determined that about 20,872 cubic miles (87,000 cubic km) of ice has accumulated at its poles since the end of the ice age, mostly in the northern polar cap.

Scientists are keenly interested in piecing together the climate history of Mars, which contains strong evidence that oceans and lakes once pooled on its surface, bolstering the prospects for life.

Scientists can now use the new ice measurements in computer simulations to more accurately model the Martian climate, said planetary scientist Isaac Smith of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who led the study.

Scientists are keenly interested in piecing together the climate history of Mars, which contains strong evidence that oceans and lakes once pooled on its surface (Source: Reuters)
Scientists are keenly interested in piecing together the climate history of Mars, which contains strong evidence that oceans and lakes once pooled on its surface (Source: Reuters)

“Previously those models were unconstrained by observations so they started with guesses. Now they have more to run on,” Smith said.

The study also was the first to tie a specific layer of Martian ice with a specific period of time. “Eventually we’d like to be able to do this for every layer,” Smith said.

From the perspective of an Earthling, every day on Mars may feel like an ice age. According to NASA, temperatures on Mars may hit a high at noon at the equator in the summer of roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), or a low of about minus-225 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-153 degrees Celsius) at the poles.

Unlike Earth, ice ages on Mars occur when its poles are warmer than average and frozen water is more stable at lower latitudes. Transitions between lengthy climate phases can leave telltale features in the ice, the research showed.

For example, Smith and colleagues found dramatic slopes in layers of ice within the Martian northern ice cap. Other layers reveal ice flowing in reverse direction. The climate cycles are triggered by changes in Mars’ orbit and tilt, which affect how much sunlight reaches the planet’s surface.

The climate changes on Red planet depend on the its orbit and tilt which also affects how much sunlight reaches the planet’s surface. For example, Smith and colleagues found dramatic slopes in layers of ice within the Martian northern ice cap. Other layers reveal ice flowing in reverse direction.

It is said that shifts on Mars are pretty strong as their tilt change is as much as 60 compared to that Earth’s tilt degree is just about 2 degrees. (Reuters)

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  • Pritam Go Green

    Just waiting for the day when scientists will declare Mars suitable enough for growth of living organisms. Hope one day we humans will travel to Mars.

  • Pritam Go Green

    With this new theory one thing is for sure that the day is not far when Mars will become a living planet.

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Finally The Cause Of Mysterious Martian Rock Formation Discovered

The new finding add to scientists' understanding of Mars's interior and its past potential for habitability

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Finally The Cause Of Mysterious Martian Rock Formation Discovered
Finally The Cause Of Mysterious Martian Rock Formation Discovered, flickr

Explosive volcanic eruptions that shot jets of hot ash, rock and gas skyward are the probable source of a mysterious Martian rock formation near the planet’s equator, says a new study.

The Medusae Fossae Formation is a massive, unusual deposit of soft rock with undulating hills and abrupt mesas.

Scientists first observed the Medusae Fossae with NASA’s Mariner spacecraft in the 1960s but were perplexed as to how it formed.

The current study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, suggests the formation was deposited during explosive volcanic eruptions on the Red Planet more than three billion years ago.

The formation is about one-fifth as large as the continental US and 100 times more massive than the largest explosive volcanic deposit on Earth, making it the largest known explosive volcanic deposit in the solar system, according to the study authors.

“This is a massive deposit, not only on a Martian scale, but also in terms of the solar system, because we do not know of any other deposit that is like this,” said study lead author Lujendra Ojha, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

Volcanic eruption
Volcanic eruption, pixabay

The researchers believe that the new finding could add to scientists’ understanding of Mars’s interior and its past potential for habitability.

The eruptions that created the deposit could have spewed massive amounts of climate-altering gases into Mars’ atmosphere and ejected enough water to cover Mars in a global ocean more than nine centimeters thick, Ojha said.

Previous radar measurements of Mars’s surface suggested the Medusae Fossae had an unusual composition, but scientists were unable to determine whether it was made of highly porous rock or a mixture of rock and ice.

In the new study, the researchers used gravity data from various Mars orbiter spacecraft to measure the Medusae Fossae’s density for the first time.

They found the rock is unusually porous — it is about two-thirds as dense as the rest of the Martian crust.

They also used radar and gravity data in combination to show the Medusae Fossae’s density cannot be explained by the presence of ice, which is much less dense than rock.

Because the rock is so porous, it had to have been deposited by explosive volcanic eruptions, according to the researchers.

volcano
Active volcano, Pixabay

Greenhouse gases exhaled during the eruptions that spawned the Medusae Fossae could have warmed Mars’s surface enough for water to remain liquid at its surface, but toxic volcanic gases like hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide would have altered the chemistry of Mars’ surface and atmosphere.

Also read: Earthquake Then Volcano, There is No Relief For the Hawaii Residents

Both processes would have affected Mars’ potential for habitability, Ojha said. (IANS)