Martian Divides

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Third in the Martian Symbiont series

The improved resolution will help us understand the still-mysterious formation of specific regions of the planet, he says. Already the map is shedding light on how some of the Red Planet's features formed across the boundary that divides the relatively smooth northern lowlands from heavily cratered southern highlands.

And analysis of tides in the Martian crust and mantle as it is pulled between the Sun and Mars' two moons confirm that the planet has a liquid outer core of molten rock.


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The map also gives a picture as to how gravity has changed over 11 years — an entire cycle of solar activity. That shows a massive amount of carbon dioxide that freezes out of the atmosphere during winter. The map shows how the mass moves between the south pole and the north pole with the change of seasons.

The map was built using slight fluctuations in data from the orbiting spacecraft as Mars' gravity changed their trajectory over about 16 years' orbit around Mars. But these fluctuations are tiny and it took two years to strip out other effects that can change the trajectory of the spacecraft, such as the force of sunlight on the spacecraft's solar panels and drag from the thin upper atmosphere.

Elemental Martian Calendars

A human-sized centrifuge could counteract muscle wasting and bone loss in space. The Noctis Labyrinthus region of Mars, the "labyrinth of the night". Digital Issues Buy a back issue. Renew my subscription Give a Gift Manage my subscription. The Vanadium calendar may also delight those who may despair of the simplistic rigidity that characterizes the other 3 proposed calendars with month names based on the periodic table.

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Those who might miss having months begin on different days of the week should revel in this calendar in which the starting dates of the various months cascade merrily backward through the week with only the months of Hydrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus and Titanium beginning on a Sunday or Sunsol. The formula is easily expressed in a simple poem: Should the Martian year end in double zero, Two, four, six or eight, Vanadium hath thirty days To keep the calendar straight But should the year end in single zero, One, three, five, seven or nine, Vanadium hath thirty-one; All other months have twenty-nine.

No starting point exists which would allow more than one season to begin on the first of a month. The sol names are slightly different for this calendar than for the other 3 proposed calendars that name the months after the periodic table in that each day month is neatly divided into 5 weeks of 6 sols each. The final eight to nine sols may be abbreviated as V1 through V9 - for Vanadium, the next element after Titanium, which is easier than abbreviating them Ye1 through Ye9 or Ti31 through Ti39, but as this does not constitute a full month, the calendar is called the Titanium Calendar for the last full month that it completes.

Unlike the Chromium calendar which was largely inspired by the International Fixed calendar of Moses Cotsworth and the Potassium and Vanadium calendars which owe their inspiration to an old article by Isaac Asimov in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, the Titanium calendar is an adaptation of a "Zero Mondays Slackers Calendar" mischievously proposed by yours truly for our planet Earth about a decade ago.

New gravity map provides best view yet inside Mars

In keeping with the convention of referring to Martian days as "sols", the six sols of the Martian week would be named as follows: Sunsol, Tuesol, Wensol, Thursol, Frisol, Satsol These names would apply for the first sols. Earthsol, to honor Earth. Marsol, gotta be an important day on Mars.

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Jovesol, to honor Jupiter, or "Jove. Nepsol, for Neptune, of course. Unsol, pronounced YOON SOL, to honor the universe, though if another planet were yet to be discovered beyond Pluto, its name could be given to this sol. Unsol is basically the leap sol, occurring roughly 3 of every 5 years.

In contrast to the other 3 calendars listed above each of which features 'working' sols per Martian year very close to the or per year for the 96 work week Darian calendar , the Titanium calendar has a mere - largely due to the six sol week. These small fluctuations in the orbital data were used to build a map of the Martian gravity field.

The gravity field was recovered using about 16 years of data that were continuously collected in orbit around Mars.

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However, orbital changes from uneven gravity are tiny, and other forces that can perturb the motion of the spacecraft had to be carefully accounted for, such as the force of sunlight on the spacecraft's solar panels and drag from the Red Planet's thin upper atmosphere. It took two years of analysis and computer modeling to remove the motion not caused by gravity. For example, an area of lower gravity between Acidalia Planitia and Tempe Terra was interpreted before as a system of buried channels that delivered water and sediments from Mars' southern highlands into the northern lowlands billions of years ago when the Martian climate was wetter than it is today.

The new map reveals that this low gravity anomaly is definitely larger and follows the boundary between the highlands and the lowlands. This system of gravity troughs is unlikely to be only due to buried channels because in places the region is elevated above the surrounding plains.

The new gravity map shows that some of these features run perpendicular to the local topography slope, against what would have been the natural downhill flow of water.

New gravity map gives us a glimpse inside Mars | Cosmos

Tharsis is a volcanic plateau on Mars thousands of miles across with the largest volcanoes in the solar system. As the Tharsis volcanoes grew, the surrounding lithosphere buckled under their immense weight.

Fly over the Chasma Boreale at Martian north pole

The new gravity field also allowed the team to confirm indications from previous gravity solutions that Mars has a liquid outer core of molten rock.


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