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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Martian Gravity Map

Martian Gravity Map

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, March 24, 2016/Categories: natural history, video, space science, environment

                                                 Martian Gravity Map  (credit: MIT, NASA)

Gravity on Earth is regular but what if it varied as it does on Mars?

The planet has variable gravity with high mountains and deep valleys differentially tugging. A new gravity map was created by NASA using three spacecraft and offers insight into the interior of the Red Planet. This variation affected the spacecraft in varying amounts as they flew over different Martian regions.

Satellites orbit a planet’s center of mass but they can be pulled a bit off-course by landscape features like high mountains such as Olympus Mons (higher than Mount Everest) or deep canyons like Valles Marineris (deeper than the Grand Canyon). Researchers at the Goddard Space Flight Center used these orbital fluctuations to map the gravity fields of Mars. The detail provides insight into the thickness of the Martian crust, the planet's interior, and seasonal variations of ice at the poles.

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