Tuesday December 11, 2018
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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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NASA’s Probe Discovers Signs Of Water on Asteroid Bennu

OSIRIS-REx will pass later this month just 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from Bennu, entering the asteroid's gravitational pull and analyzing its terrain.

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Asteroid
This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered ingredients for water on a relatively nearby skyscraper-sized asteroid, a rocky acorn-shaped object that may hold clues to the origins of life on Earth, scientists said on Monday.

OSIRIS-REx, which flew last week within a scant 12 miles (19 km) of the asteroid Bennu some 1.4 million miles (2.25 million km) from Earth, found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules — part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life — embedded in the asteroid’s rocky surface.

The probe, on a mission to return samples from the asteroid to Earth for study, was launched in 2016. Bennu, roughly a third of a mile wide (500 meters), orbits the sun at roughly the same distance as Earth. There is concern among scientists about the possibility of Bennu impacting Earth late in the 22nd century.

 

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx. Flickr

 

“We have found the water-rich minerals from the early solar system, which is exactly the kind of sample we were going out there to find and ultimately bring back to Earth,” University of Arizona planetary scientist Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx mission’s principal investigator, said in a telephone interview.

Asteroids are among the leftover debris from the solar system’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists believe asteroids and comets crashing into early Earth may have delivered organic compounds and water that seeded the planet for life, and atomic-level analysis of samples from Bennu could provide key evidence to support that hypothesis.

“When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system,” Amy Simon, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement.

OSIRIS-REx, NASA, Asteroid
This illustration provided by NASA depicts the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at the asteroid Bennu. The rocky remnant from the dawn of the solar system may hold clues to the origins of life. VOA

“We’re really trying to understand the role that these carbon-rich asteroids played in delivering water to the early Earth and making it habitable,” Lauretta added.

OSIRIS-REx will pass later this month just 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from Bennu, entering the asteroid’s gravitational pull and analyzing its terrain. From there, the spacecraft will begin to gradually tighten its orbit around the asteroid, spiraling to within just 6 feet (2 meters) of its surface so its robot arm can snatch a sample of Bennu by July 2020.

Also Read: Wintertime Ice Growth in Arctic Sea Slows Long-Term Decline: NASA

The spacecraft will later fly back to Earth, jettisoning a capsule bearing the asteroid specimen for a parachute descent in the Utah desert in September 2023. (VOA)