10:24 GMT19 February 2020
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    A new map detailing gravity levels on Mars could provide a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Red Planet.

    Using data from three NASA spacecraft, scientists have developed the most detailed map yet, which offers a new insight into why parts of the planet has more craters than others.

    A research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) observed the gravitational changes on Mars over the period of an entire solar cycle — which is 11 years — in the hope the findings could help future missions to the Red Planet.

    Mars is less dense than Earth and has about 38 percent of Earth surface gravity.

    "The new gravity map will be helpful for future Mars exploration, because better knowledge of the planet's gravity anomalies helps mission controllers insert spacecraft more precisely into orbit about Mars," lead author Antonio Genova from MIT said.

    "Furthermore, the improved resolution of our gravity map will help us understand the still-mysterious formation of specific regions of the planet," Genova added.

    Genova and his team have been able to confirm that Mars has a liquid outer core made of molten rock. They also found that a massive amount of carbon dioxide freezes out of the atmosphere and onto a polar ice cap during the planet's winter period. And that mass moves between the South and North Pole with the change of season in the Earth's hemispheres.

    "With this new map, we've been able to see gravity anomalies as small as about 100 kilometers across, and we've determined the crustal thickness of Mars with a resolution of around 120 kilometers," said Genova.

    The new map used data collected from NASA's Deep Space Network from three Nasa spacecraft orbiting the planet. The findings were published in the journal, Icarus.    


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    journey to Mars, mapping, space travel, gravity, astronomy, planet, science, space, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mars, United States
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