(ORDO NEWS) — A collaboration of scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and the Royal Observatory of Belgium, led by Alex S. Konopliv, found evidence of the existence of the so-called “Chandler oscillations” on Mars.
About one century ago, astronomer Seth Carlo Chandler discovered that the axes of rotation of non-perfectly spherical objects, such as planets, sometimes experience a slight “wobble”. This phenomenon, known as the “Chandler movement”, was officially recorded in the case of the Earth, which deviates from its axis by a distance of up to 10 meters with a period of 433 days.
The researchers assumed that other planets are also characterized by Chandler oscillations, however, until now, it was not possible to determine the presence of such oscillations, since this requires precision measurements over a very long time.
In the new study, however, the Cannabis team was able to obtain observational data of the required quality using three orbiting Martian vehicles orbiting the Red Planet over the years: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey. These data cover a time span of 18 years and are accurate enough to measure any existing Chandler fluctuations, the authors noted.
The collected data, which are measurements of the level of gravitational impact on the spacecraft, made it possible to find out that Mars really demonstrates Chandler motions, although they are less pronounced than in the case of the Earth – for example, the planet deviates from the axis at a distance of no more than 10 centimeters with a period of 200 days …
One of the curious features of Chandler oscillations is that over time, they gradually fade to a complete stop. Calculations have shown that the “tremor” of the Earth’s axis has been going on for much longer than expected, and this indicates the influence of unaccounted factors, the nature of which scientists have not been able to establish until now.
These new data, obtained with the help of orbiting probes, show that the axis of Mars “shakes” much longer than it should. Researchers also cannot yet accurately indicate the cause of this phenomenon, but they believe that it will be easier to detect than the cause of the deviations of the axis of rotation of our planet, since Mars is characterized by a much simpler geography, less complex structure of the interior and the structure of the atmosphere than Earth.
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