Researchers deploy an innovative method to understand Mars' gravitational patterns, hinting at the presence of a vast ancient ocean in the Red Planet's northern region.
A cutting-edge method of studying Mars’ gravitational force bolsters the argument for a once expansive northern ocean. This technique sheds new light on the scope and details of this theorized northern Martian paleo-ocean. The findings are published in Icarus.
Veteran researcher Jaroslav Klokočník, professor emeritus at the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, spearheaded this pivotal research. Among the key contributors is Gunther Kletetschka, an associate research professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, who also boasts an affiliation with Charles University in the Czech Republic.
Kletetschka highlights the universal excitement surrounding Martian water, noting its potential to harbor life forms. He enthused, “We’ve successfully employed this gravitational approach on Earth to hunt for water. In northern Africa, for instance, it unveiled an ancient lake’s shoreline, perfectly aligning with existing archaeological data.”
Benefits of the Gravity Aspects Approach
The authors emphasize that gravity analysis offers an enhanced understanding of Mars compared to traditional methods. The technique provides holistic information, which is invaluable across multiple scientific domains, including geology, geophysics, and hydrology.
Rather than just relying on gravity anomalies, which indicate areas of stronger or weaker gravitational force due to surface features, the team utilized a method designed by Klokočník. This approach examines gravity aspects derived from these anomaly measurements, offering a detailed characterization of the gravity anomalies themselves.
The Role of Topographic Data
Aiding their research was the topographic data sourced from NASA’s Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter instrument. This instrument, aboard the Mars Global Surveyor which launched in 1996, played a pivotal role in charting the Martian landscape for over four years.
Klokočník’s technique previously identified ancient lakes or river systems beneath Earth’s Saharan sands. His work in 2017 also pinpointed the Grand Egyptian Sand Sea as another potential ancient lake site. Furthermore, this method has been invaluable in comparing Earth’s geographic traits with the mystic features of Venus, as outlined in a 2023 study in Scientific Reports, with Kletetschka as a notable contributor.
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