Three Cool Things We’ve Learned From NASA's Mars Gravity Map
The vibrant new map reveals Mars’ hidden geology and could help track the red planet’s seasonal swings.
NASA has released a stunning new map of Mars that shows the planet’s terrain in a way not visible to the naked eye—using gravity to reveal new details about everything from the core to the atmosphere.
“It’s giving you a signal of the lumps and bumps of the planet’s surface,” says Richard Zurek of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who wasn’t involved with the mapping. “It’s pretty amazing that one can track this out from spacecraft flying 180 miles above Mars’ surface, through the wisp of the planet’s atmosphere.”
To reveal Mars’ gravitational wrinkles, MIT’s Antonio Genova and his colleagues analyzed 16 years’ worth of tracking data from three Mars satellites, looking for telltale wobbles in their positions and velocities caused by variations