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The secret of Mars spinning faster and faster

The secret of Mars spinning faster and faster

The day on Mars has been shortened by a fraction of a millisecond.

Our neighboring planet Mars is spinning faster on its axis, and scientists aren’t quite sure why.

The US space agency NASA reported on August 7 that experts are analyzing data from the satellite insight unit To track the planet’s rotation speed.

Find out The day on the Red Planet has been shortened by a fraction of a millisecond Every year because the planet as a whole is spinning faster.

The team doesn’t really know what’s causing this acceleration, but they do have a theory.

They point out that it could be because Mars as a whole changes quite a bitFor example in the mass of the planet or in what is happening on its surface.

The researchers believe that this may be due to Ice buildup in the polar peaks or to places where landmasses rise after being buried by ice, also known as Post-glacial recovery.

So far, these changes in rotation could not be detected due to No measurement has been as accurate as the one recorded by the InSight unitwhich ceased operations this year after completing its extended mission period.

“It’s really cool that we were able to get this latest measurement with such precision,” said Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator at Insight.

“I’ve been involved in efforts to send a geophysical station like InSight to Mars for a long time, and results like this make all these decades of work worthwhile.”

Portrait of an InSight unit

The InSight lander has made the most accurate measurements ever of Mars.

How are the measurements done?

The InSight module was launched in May 2018 to help scientists understand more about the nature of the neighboring planet.

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On the plane he was carrying Three main tools Who took the action: a Seismometera heat probe and tool Measurement of radio waves. Together, they have been called the Spin and Structure Experiment, or RISE, after its English acronym.

The seismometer’s job was to wait patiently on the surface to detect pulses called seismic waves from Martian quakes and strikes from meteorite impacts.

The thermal probe measured temperatures below the surface. To do this, it drilled to a depth of about 5 metres, which is deeper than any previous drill or probe.

For its part, the radio instrument tracked the exact location of InSight to determine the way Mars is moving around the sun.

All this information was used by scientists who discovered the acceleration of the planet’s rotation. And now they are trying to find out the possible reasons for this.

“any We are looking for differences of only a few tens of centimeters “Over the course of a Martian year,” said the paper’s lead author and RISE principal investigator Sebastien Le Meister of the Royal Observatory of Belgium.

It takes a lot of time and a lot of data “It accumulated before we could see these differences,” he added.

The study examined data from the first 900 sols recorded by InSight, enough time to search for such differences.

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