Mars' rotation speed increases and days are now longer: NASAtext_fields
Washington: Mars now has longer days because the red planet's rotation speed has increased.
Recent data analysis from NASA's InSight Lander has unveiled a noteworthy phenomenon. Scientists think Mars is spinning at a faster rate. The investigation was led by scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who remain uncertain about the root cause of this acceleration in Mars' rotation.
Having functioned for four years before its extended mission concluded in December 2022, the InSight Lander's findings, published in a recent Nature paper, represent the most precise measurement to date of Mars' rotation. The research indicates that the Red Planet's axial rotation is accelerating by approximately 4 milliarcseconds annually, corresponding to a minuscule fraction of a millisecond reduction in the Martian day each year.
Researchers have some potential explanations for this occurrence.
One hypothesis centers on the accumulation of ice on the planet's polar caps. Researchers suggest that a redistribution of mass on a celestial body can induce acceleration, much like an ice skater who spins faster by pulling in their outstretched arms.
Bruce Banerdt, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's principal investigator for InSight, expressed his enthusiasm for the precision of this latest measurement. He remarked, "It's really cool to be able to get this latest measurement - and so precisely. I've been involved in efforts to get a geophysical station like InSight onto Mars for a long time, and results like this make all those decades of work worth it."
The data was gathered by a radio transponder on the InSight Lander, along with antennas collectively known as the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment, or RISE.
RISE marks the latest addition in a sequence of Mars-bound equipment, following the footsteps of the twin Viking landers from the 1970s and the Pathfinder in the 1990s. The enhancements integrated into RISE have enabled it to capture data that is five times more precise than what was attainable during the Viking landers' missions.