Science 2 min read

Researchers Found Evidence that Mars has a Chandler Wobble

Aynur Zakirov /

Aynur Zakirov /

A combined team of researchers have found evidence that Mars has a Chandler wobble.

An American astronomer, Seth Carlo Chandler, noted that imperfectly round objects sometimes spin-off their axis for periods. That was about a century ago. Today, that phenomenon is called the Chandler wobble.

As in other round objects, Earth also experiences wobbles. Our planet veers from its axis for distances up to 30 feet in a pattern that repeats approximately 433 days.

While scientists believe that other planets undergo this phenomenon, there was little evidence to support the claim. That’s because measuring Chandler wobble on the planet-scale requires data that span many years.

But that has recently changed. For the first time, researchers managed to measure wobbling on Mars.

In a published paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers wrote:

“For the first time for any solar system body other than the Earth, one component of the motion of the Mars spin axis on the surface of Mars, called the Chandler wobble, has been detected.”

So, what does this mean?

Measuring a Chandler Wobble on Mars

In the recent effort, the researchers collected data from the space probes that have orbited the Red Planet for many years.

These include the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Global Surveyor, and Mars Odyssey. Since the data spanned over 18 years, it was precise enough to measure existing wobbles.

The data revealed that Mars indeed has a Chandler wobble. But it only veers four inches from its axis for a 200-days — significantly less than Earth’s.

The researchers noted:

“The detection of the Chandler wobble improves our understanding of energy dissipation in the mantle for time intervals near the wobble period.”

One noteworthy aspect of the wobbling is that it’s supposed to stop after a specific period. However, studies suggest that Earth has been wobbling far longer than it should have.

Similarly, data from the space probes show that the Red planet has also been wobbling longer too. And that indicates that several other unknown factors influence wobbling.

With that said, Mars has simpler geography, atmosphere, and inner structure than Earth. As such, finding out why it wobbles longer should be easier, said the researchers.

Read More: Researchers Discover More Reservoirs of Liquid Water on Mars

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