Mars 'wobbles' as it spins, the exact cause may take 'years of high quality data' to uncover

The planet's poles wander up to 10 centimetres from the average axis of rotation, in a cycle that repeats every 207 days.


Scientists have now discovered that Mars is wiggling and wobbling while it spins, and they have no idea why the celestial body is doing so. According to a report by EOS, scientists have detected what is known as the 'Chandler wobble' on Mars. The phenomenon is a repeated movement of the poles on the planet surface away from its average axis of rotation. The Chandler wobble arises when a rotating body is not a perfect sphere and the imbalance affecting its spin, the report says. The resulting phenomenon resembles a swaying top as it loses speed.

Researchers have discovered that the planet's poles wander up to 10 centimetres from the average axis of rotation, with a repeated cycle of about 207 days.

 Mars wobbles as it spins, the exact cause may take years of high quality data to uncover

A planet’s global magnetic field is the magnetic field that extends from its interior and to outer space.

The study, conducted by Alex Konopliv, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, provides new insights into the interior of Mars. According to study authors, the amount of time it takes for the pole to complete one cycle of the wobble reflects how much Mars mantle can deform. This allows scientists to get more information about its properties and thermal state.

Speaking about it, Konopliv added that the wobble is a very small signal and require years of high quality data for detection.

The new study saw researchers calculate gravitation effects on the orbits of two NASA spacecraft circling Mars. The quantity of data collected over 18 years from Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance orbiter, ensured that the wobble was intrinsic to the planet's interior and shape rather than external facts.

The motion on Mars should naturally die down, however, researchers don’t yet know what is keeping the wobble going and think it could possibly be due to atmospheric pressure changes.

The study results have been presented in the Geophysical Research Letters.


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