October 4, 2023

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The last ice age on Mars ended abruptly

The last ice age on Mars ended abruptly

Now again. This time, the rover has found evidence of a dramatic change in the Martian climate 400,000 years ago.

The rover has explored the dark hills or the light dune tops of Utopia Planetia. This plain, with a diameter of 3,300 km, was probably the bottom of the sea millions of years ago.

Researchers from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Brown University of the United States wrote this down Journal article nature.

A drastic shift in wind direction

The team used data from the Zuurong rover, which is equipped with terrain cameras and multiple spectra, surface composition analysis tools, and meteorological instruments.

The data was combined with images from high-resolution cameras from a satellite orbiting Mars.

Taken together, these data show that the dunes in the region were most likely formed by a dramatic shift in strong wind patterns.

These processes took place about 400,000 years ago, coinciding with the last ice age of the Red Planet.

The research shows that the wind direction changed by about 70 degrees from northeast to northwest.

As a result, the shape of the dunes has changed: from crescent-shaped dunes that have eroded over hundreds of thousands of years, to long, dark hills of sand dunes.

Older, crescent-shaped dunes are lighter than the newer, darker edges.

Based on the number of craters around the dunes, the researchers believe that the crescent-shaped dunes formed between 2.1 million and 400,000 years ago, and dark dunes ridge above the crescent-shaped dunes after the Ice Age 400,000 years ago.

shift in the axis of rotation

The results also indicated that a change in the tilt of Mars’ axis of rotation may have ended the last ice age. Climate change can be seen in the dune layers of southern Utopia Planitia.

The tilt of Mars’ rotational axis is due to the natural phenomenon of Milankovitch cycles. These tendencies cause changes in the planets’ climate, in part because sunlight falls differently.

Milankovi cycles indicate that the axis of rotation changes periodically with respect to the planet’s orbit. This happens, among other things, under the influence of the gravitational pull of the Sun, Jupiter and other planets, and the shape of the planet’s orbit.

Researchers believe that the tilt of the axis of rotation ranged between 15° and 35° from 2.1 million to 400,000 years ago, causing the Martian climate to change.

Mars is located in the Amazonian geological era, which began between 3.55 and 1.88 billion years ago. New data can teach us more about this era.

says lead author Li Chunlai of the Chinese Academy of Sciences In a press release.

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