Something strange happens on Mars during solar eclipse

The Moon of Mars is not the same as the Moon of our Earth. Phobos, the larger of the two, is very close to its planet; Compared to the Moon’s 27-day orbit, Phobos revolves around Mars along the equator of the planet, which occurs on every Mars Day (Sol).

Therefore, the solar eclipse is much higher than those on Earth. The Phobos passes through the front of – but never completely covers – the sun on Mars for the most part or partially eclipses. Because Phobos is moving so fast, it never moves for more than 30 seconds.

But, during this brief time, Mars Insight Lander has recorded some strange incidents.

During the Phobos eclipse, to the surprise of Mars scientists, the lander’s seismometer – the device that records ground motion to monitor possible earthquake activity – tilted to one side, only an infinitely slight tilt.

Researchers at ETH Zurich’s Institute of Geophysics were actually studying Mars Insight data to see if some of the effects of eclipses here on Earth also occur on Mars.

Specifically: “When the Earth experiences a solar eclipse, devices can detect a drop in temperature and a strong gust of wind, as the atmosphere cools to a particular location and the air runs away from that location , ”Explained seismologist Simon Steller of ETH Zürich.

The Insight is equipped with temperature and air sensors – but they did not change the atmosphere during Phobos transit. Atmospheric turbulence, atmospheric temperature and barometer pressure remained very high with a normal sol.

However, solar cells registered the infection. In fact, it would be very curious if they did not, as Phobos could block more than 40 percent of the sunlight – so it was reassuring that something had gone according to plan.

“When phobos are in front of the sun, less sunlight reaches the solar cells, and these in turn produce less power,” Steller said. “Decline in light exposure due to phobos’ shadow can be measured.”

But that was the extent of “expected”. Because both the magnetometer and the seismometer rotate with odd readings – the seismometer with its unexpected tilt.

Indeed, the asymmetry with the magnetometer – used to monitor the magnetic field on the Martian surface – was very easy to detect. The two components showed a similar decrease in current from the solar array. So scientists believe that the decreasing current was the likely cause.

“But we didn’t expect this seismic reading, it’s an unusual sign,” Steller said. “Imagine a 5- franc coin; Now, push two silver atoms down one edge. This is the inclination we are talking about: 10 ^ -8.”

It does not look like a false positive; The signal is recorded for three transits, unconscious but real. The team hoped that this could be a seismic response to the tidal current of the moon – namely, gravity – as the bridge passed through the forehead.

However, when they compared it to other readings of seismic activity from Mars, the signal showed no resemblance to previous seismic activity.

Another possibility is that the tether connecting the seismometer to the lander is contracted. However, it produced a tilt in the opposite direction that was observed.

And a density change can be introduced by a change in atmospheric temperature, which reduced the seismic kilometer, but, as we have already discussed, such a change was not detected.

But there was another sign. An infrared radiometer recorded a slight drop in surface temperature during the longest transit, followed by the ground warming back to its pre-transit temperature during a period of approximately one and a half minutes.

This, the team believes, is the most likely reason for the strange reading.

“During the eclipse, the ground cools,” said ETH Zurich seismologist Martin van Drell. “It is disproportionately deformed, which bends the instrument.”

A similar effect was seen at the Black Forest Observatory in Germany in 1997.

A technician forgot to turn off the lights when exiting the seismometer vault, resulting in increased noise in the long-term data as the warmth from the bulb expanded the granite upon which the seismometer rested.

A series of experiments with artificial heat sources continue, indicating that seismic responses occur almost immediately to heat changes in the seismic column.

The team repeated their version of this experiment, and found that they were able to receive a signal corresponding to the inclination of the Insight’s seismometer.

The researchers said that this information could be used to better understand Phobos and Mars.

For one, Insight’s location is very accurately mapped. Knowing when the phobos eclipse begins and ends at that location can help scientists more accurately disrupt its orbit.

And this, in turn, can help us understand what Phobos has for its future.

The Moon’s orbit is decaying at a rate of 1.8 centimeters per year, as it slows down; Eventually, scientists predict, it will grow so close to Mars that the tidal force will tear Phobos apart, turning it into a ring of debris circling Mars.

If recession can be characterized, it can tell us how elastic and hot the interior of the planet is – or how ominous and cold it is. And that, in turn, can throw some light on the history of the formation of Mars.

The research has been published in Geophysical research paper.


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