In the month when Mars was closest to the Earth than it has been in years, scientists reported in the journal Science that the red planet lived an ice age after going through multiple stages of climate change. the Southwest Research Institute researchers reported that by using images taken by NASA and making radar measurements in layers of polar ice, they found that Mars experienced an ice age about 370,000 years.
In the study, the researcher Isaac Smith, the Southwest Reasearch Institute, USA, and his team were able to date the various layers of ice on the planet. The evidence was obtained by the equipment of spacecraft Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA launched in 2005 and aimed to raise awareness of the neighboring planet.
According to researchers who have studied the polar layers for eight years, ice ages on the planet would have been formed in a similar way to what happened on Earth: Long-term changes in the tilt of the planet’s axis and its orbit make solar radiation to in certain latitudes than in other (leaving some with ice accumulation). On Mars, however, these changes seem to be more pronounced, since, as the Earth changes 2 degrees in its inclination in hundreds of thousands of years (or even millions), Mars reaches modify up to 60 degrees inclination of the planet in same period – this range the axis of rotation influences the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface, as well as stability in ice at all latitudes. The highest incidence of rays in the central area of the planet causes the ice to accumulate on the pole.
With the new data, researchers estimate that since the last ice age on Earth for 370,000 years, about 87,000 cubic kilometers of ice had accumulated on the North Pole of the planet, equivalent to a thickness of 60 cm if the ice is spread by the full extent of Mars. “Studying the ice on Mars is important for the future of human exploration on the red planet. Water is a scarce resource on a possible Martian station, “said Smith.