Mars refreshes asteroids: Scientists
Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found that Mars causes “refreshing” of some near-Earth asteroids, causing the space rocks to appear redder than meteorites.
What is “refreshing” in terms of asteroids?
Scientists have long been puzzled over why asteroids appear redder than meteorites – the remnants of asteroids that have crashed to Earth. Later, it was thought to occur due to the effect of the Earth’s gravity on the asteroids passing closer to its orbit which causes the surface material to shift, exposing fresh material, causing it to appear redder. This surface material shift phenomenon is called Refreshing.
How Mars refreshes asteroids?
In the latest findings, scientists have calculated that the gravity of Mars can also cause these phenomena. Scientists calculated the orbits of 60 refreshed asteroids, and found that 10% of these never cross Earth’s orbit. Instead, these asteroids only come close to Mars, suggesting that the Red Planet can refresh the surfaces of these asteroids. These findings show that Earth is not the only major factor behind the refreshing of asteroids. The finding is also a surprising one as the Red Planet is one-third the size of Earth, and one-tenth as massive — and therefore exerts a far weaker gravitational pull on surrounding objects. But Mars’ position in the solar system places the planet in close proximity with the asteroid belt, increasing the chance of close asteroid encounters.
Tags: Current Affairs 2013