NASA’s has created a new Gravity map that reveals the secrets behind gravity on Mars
NASA has created one of the most precise maps of Mars’s gravity that gives a clearer insight of the red planet’s mysterious interior. Through this new gravitational chart of the red planet by NASA has gotten deeper into the secrets of Mars, the closest neighbor to our planet. The scientists studied the tugs and pulls experienced by the spacecraft while orbiting the planet and based on this data the map was revealed.
While studying the orbit of the spacecraft, the space agency examined the small changes that the three crafts, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, faced while circling Mars. To build this map, the agency took more than a decade for the agency to organize the data collected. Signals from the Deep Space Network antennas situated around our planet were used by the craft. These signals were able to detect slight variations in their orbit and find out what it means with regards to the red planet’s composition. The small orbital fluctuations contributed to constructing a map of the Martian gravity field.
For example, NASA explained that on Mars gravitational pull is greater on the mountains than it is on the valley. It also experiences a change as it moved to close to prominent physical features as well as craters.
In a press release, Antonio Genova, an MIT researcher who led the study at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre said, “Gravity maps allow us to see inside a planet, just as a doctor uses an X-ray to see inside a patient. This new gravity map will be helpful for future Mars exploration, because better knowledge of the planet’s gravity anomalies helps mission controllers insert spacecraft more precisely into orbit around Mars.”
The thickness of the Mars’ crust has been indicated to be within 120 kms as the map is able to spot irregularities for up to 100 kms.
Genova said the map gives researchers a better understanding of the “still-mysterious formation” of certain regions of the planet. The gravitational mapping has left NASA scientists with one of the clearest pictures ever constructed of how Mars is actually laid out. They now know how the divide between the smoother northern lands of the planet and the rocky, cratered southern lands actually splits.
The team behind the map confirmed that the gravitational pull of the sun and the two Martian moons and how that worked on the planet, and figured out that Mars definitely has a liquid outer core of molten rock.
“With this new map, we’ve been able to see gravity anomalies as small as about 62 miles across and we’ve determined the crustal thickness of Mars with a resolution of around 75 miles,” Genova added. “The better resolution of the new map helps interpret how the crust of the planet changed over Mars’s history in many regions.”
NASA is getting more physically closer to the red planet considering the amount of information that it has found on Mars. The space agency has announced a May 2018 launch for its Insight Mission.