Is Mars's moon hot or cold

Climate change on Mars too


One of the most interesting results from the HRSC data is what we have learned about volcanism on Mars. It doesn't just have to be very durable. It continues into the recent geological past. Researchers found solidified lavas that are 100 million years old in the summit caldera of the gigantic Olympus Mons volcano. On its western flank, volcanic deposits could even be detected that are only about two million years old. According to the geological understanding of time, this means that Mars is not dead. Volcanic activity could therefore no longer be ruled out even today and in the near future.

These findings are confirmed by the measurements made by the PFS spectrometer, which discovered the short-lived gas methane in the Martian atmosphere. Its distribution over volcanic areas suggests that it originates from a volcanic heat source under the surface of Mars.

The evaluation of the data so far shows that geological activities have changed dramatically in the course of planetary development over four and a half billion years. In the Martian highlands they came to a standstill about three billion years ago. More recently - less than 500 million years ago - they have been concentrated in the Tharsis and Elysium regions, as well as some volcanoes near the North Pole.

The shield volcano Olympus Mons, located in the Tharsis region, is 27 kilometers high and almost 600 kilometers in diameter, at the same time the highest and largest mountain in our solar system.


the atmosphere

The ASPERA instrument registered that the solar wind penetrated the Martian atmosphere up to 250 kilometers deep - and thus much more strongly than previously assumed - and solar wind protons were scattered back. The ASPERA data also show that the Martian atmosphere does not lose components continuously, but rather in episodic trains. The cause has not yet been clarified.

Particularly noteworthy is the discovery of methane ice clouds. They were recorded and examined in the Martian atmosphere using the HRSC, OMEGA, PFS and SPICAM instruments. OMEGA also found a thin cloud of carbon dioxide at an altitude of 80 to 100 kilometers. Surprisingly, SPICAM even discovered auroras, although Mars has no magnetic field at all.

Overall, Mars offers future visitors anything but a livable environment. Its temperatures can fluctuate between 0 degrees Celsius and minus 100 degrees Celsius, depending on the region as well as the time of year and time of day. The mean annual temperature is minus 68 degrees Celsius, which is around 80 degrees lower than on earth. Then there is the deadly UV radiation from the sun hitting the surface of Mars. The atmosphere, which is around 100 times thinner, is similar to that of car exhaust: 95 percent carbon dioxide, 2.7 percent nitrogen, the rest is made up of argon, carbon monoxide, ozone, oxygen, water vapor, xenon and krypton. Apart from the occasional global dust storm and the occasional windpipe - HRSC determined top speeds of 108 kilometers per hour and thicknesses of several thousand meters - it is largely quiet on the Red Planet. Only now and then does a gust of wind stir up fine dust.


Climate change

Data from the HRSC camera reveal the turbulent climate history of our red planet. In primeval times, Mars must have had a denser atmosphere and a warmer, more humid climate. This is proven by the delta deposits discovered by HRSC. A central theme of climate development is therefore water: When and in what quantities was there water in liquid form on the surface?

The HRSC data show that about three and a half to four billion years ago there must have been major geological changes, massive floods and dramatic climate change. Since then, the floods have dried up and water has only flowed sporadically over the surface.

Mars Express discovered geologically young surface forms that stem from glacial ice. With this glacial treasure trove it was possible to prove three ice ages for the last 300 million years. The most recent ice advance took place around four million years ago. It left tongue-shaped deposits that could have shed glacial ice under them that may still be there today. What is remarkable about this spectacular discovery is the location not far from the equator. There shouldn't be any glacier tracks here. The scientists suspect that the unusual climatic changes could be due to strong fluctuations in Mars' axis of rotation.

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