Mars is recovering from an ice age more than 400,000 years ago

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May 27, 2016, 4:53 PM EDT (Updated)

A new study confirms Mars has dealt with ice ages off and on throughout the planet’s life — and it’s apparently still easing out of the last one.

Published in Science, the study reaches the conclusion that the Red Planet is slowly exiting an ice age that ended approximately 400,000 years ago. The findings weren’t much of a surprise, but they did confirm what scientists have long thought about Mars’ history. The planet has gone through several ice ages, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was finally able to prove it by surveying the planet and analyzing the polar ice caps with radar.

As Engadget notes, the study also looked at how the ice moved over time, tracking the time and areas affected by studying the wind effects and erosion. The advantages of this study hit on a lot of levels: Since we eventually want to go to Mars, understanding as much as we can about its weather and history can help predict what we’ll find when we get there.

Mars’ climate issues could also serve as a mirror for our own world, and since we live on our world, it wouldn’t hurt to figure out as much as we can.


(Via Science, Engadget)