Mars is spinning faster and faster, and no one knows why
The first manned mission to Mars is scheduled to start in 2040. But the Red Planet remains a mystery. NASA measurements have now shown that our neighboring planet is spinning faster. Why? unclear. Could it be related to water resources?
DrThe dream of life on Mars has fascinated humanity for decades. Meanwhile, that desire is no longer pure science fiction — at least NASA aims to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2040s. SpaceX founder Elon Musk even goes further: in one step mail On platform X formerly known as Twitter, it was announced that this could happen as early as 2029.
Despite more than 40 years of research, relatively little is known about Earth’s neighboring planet. After all, data from the Insight space probe, which ends in 2022, provide startling insights. And as NASA researchers have now been able to assess, the Red Planet is spinning faster by about four milliseconds each year. This shortens the day on Mars by a fraction of a millisecond. The experts published their findings in the specialized journal “nature“.
But why does Mars rotate faster? Before we take a closer look, one more general question for you:
The reasons for the acceleration are not yet clear – there are two possible explanations
So far, NASA researchers can only make assumptions based on the available data. There are two main explanations for minimum acceleration. On the one hand, someone says that the accumulation of ice on the planet’s polar caps could cause Mars to rotate faster press release US Space Agency.
On the other hand, the so-called postglacial uplift can also be considered as a cause. Land masses rise from the planet’s surface after being buried by ice. Hence a shift in the planet’s mass could cause it to accelerate. The researchers liken this effect to a skater spinning with their arms outstretched and then pulling their arms inward, which speeds up their spin.
It is very likely that there is water on Mars. This is confirmed by the results of A Study from 2022 from the University of Cambridge. Among other things, the astronomers used existing data from the Mars rover Perseverance.
This is how researchers discovered that Mars rotates faster
The current analysis and evaluation of the InSight data may now provide additional information about the structure of the Red Planet. The spacecraft began its mission in 2018. Four years later, it was decommissioned. During this time, the spacecraft has collected many geological data from the interior of Mars. For example, InSight has recorded several Martian earthquakes, enabling researchers to conclude, among other things, that the Martian core must have a liquid composition.
However, for the current findings, the researchers did not evaluate the probe’s seismic probes, but radio traffic between the probe’s instruments. “The Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE)” and NASA’s “Deep Space Network” on Earth. The frequencies and radio waves generated by radio communications over 900 sols were measured and compared. The researchers were able to use mathematical models to infer the rotation of Mars.
The opposite trend is evident on Earth
Long-term trends show that Earth’s rotation is slowing. The reason is the moon: it redistributes the Earth’s mass through tides, which has a dampening effect. There are no oceans on Mars that qualify for this explanation. But the already described ice caps at the south pole of Mars do.
In order to determine the most likely cause of the acceleration of Mars’ rotation, scientists now want to conduct a more detailed analysis. “We invested a lot of time and energy in setting up the experiment and waiting for these discoveries. But we were surprised along the way — and it’s not over yet, because RISE doesn’t He still has a lot to reveal about Mars.”
So we will still be able to make some exciting discoveries on the Red Planet in the future. Until then, this group is already preparing for a possible life there:
“Total coffee aficionado. Travel buff. Music ninja. Bacon nerd. Beeraholic.”