You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Mars faced an ice age 400,000 years ago, and it's still recovering

Engadget Engadget 27/05/2016 David Lumb
© Provided by Engadget

We've known for a while now that Mars has water frozen in ice. And analyzing that water has been a key goal to understanding how the planet has changed over time, especially if its presence meant it once held life. Today, a newly published study concludes that Mars is ever-so slowly exiting an ice age that ended 400,000 years ago.The study, published in Science, confirms what models had predicted years ago, but weren't previously able to prove: that Mars has had several ice age cycles in the past. Using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a NASA spacecraft filled with instruments for surveying the red planet, researchers analyzed radar images of its polar ice caps. Tracking erosion and wind effects told a story of how the ice advanced and receded over time -- and gave the researchers a timeline for when the last ice age ended.

Studying Mars' climate change gives us a parallel to the global warming occurring on Earth. The former is the closest planet in the solar system to our own, making it a decent laboratory to study how a similar atmosphere would look without a over a century of burned fossil fuels. But if we're going to send humans to Mars one day it's a good idea to figure out its weather and water situation.Science

More from Engadget

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon