Study: Ice belt encircled Mars' equator

Sep 08, 2005

ESA's Mars Express space probe that entered orbit at the end of 2003 may have found evidence of a band of ice that once spanned the Martian equator.

A ESA scientist says patterns of glacial activity on the planet may be a relic of an ancient belt of ice that formed about five million years ago due to a change in the tilt of Mars. That shift caused moisture from the poles to be deposited as snow at the equator.

The idea is based on work by a team of scientists led by astronomer Jacques Laskar of the Paris Observatory.

Laskar's team has shown the tilt of Mars on its axis can vary between 15 degrees and 40 degrees, largely because of its lack of a significant moon.

Researchers also found that when Mars' tilt changed to about 35 degrees, moisture trapped at the North and South Poles might have been re-deposited in equatorial regions as snow.

Eventually, the poles may have become smaller and a thick belt of ice formed around the tropics.

The study was detailed during the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences meeting this week in Cambridge, England.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Comet Jacques makes a 'questionable' appearance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A habitable environment on Martian volcano?

May 27, 2014

(Phys.org) —Heat from a volcano erupting beneath an immense glacier would have created large lakes of liquid water on Mars in the relatively recent past. And where there's water, there is also the possibility ...

Image: A peppering of craters at the Moon's south pole

May 26, 2014

(Phys.org) —The dark and shadowed regions of the Moon fascinate astronomers and Pink Floyd fans alike. Our Moon's rotation axis has a tilt of 1.5º, meaning that some parts of its polar regions never see ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

Apr 15, 2014

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...

Long-stressed Europa likely off-kilter at one time

Sep 18, 2013

(Phys.org) —By analyzing the distinctive cracks lining the icy face of Europa, NASA scientists found evidence that this moon of Jupiter likely spun around a tilted axis at some point.

Recommended for you

Comet Jacques makes a 'questionable' appearance

5 minutes ago

What an awesome photo! Italian amateur astronomer Rolando Ligustri nailed it earlier today using a remote telescope in New Mexico and wide-field 4-inch (106 mm) refractor. Currently the brightest comet in ...

Image: Our flocculent neighbour, the spiral galaxy M33

14 minutes ago

The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the ...

Titan offers clues to atmospheres of hazy planets

15 minutes ago

When hazy planets pass across the face of their star, a curious thing happens. Astronomers are not able to see any changes in the range of light coming from the star and planet system.

Having fun with the equation of time

25 minutes ago

If you're like us, you might've looked at a globe of the Earth in elementary school long before the days of Google Earth and wondered just what that strange looking figure eight thing on its side was.

User comments : 0