Mars: a Sorbonne University laboratory at the heart of fresh scientific discoveries

An article published in Nature on March 2, 2016 described some new discoveries about the surface of the planet Mars. The UPMC-CNRS Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory is closely involved in this work, which has radically changed our perception of the surface of Mars as it was 4 billion years ago and is changing our chronology of events on the planet

The surface of Mars tilted by 20 to 25 degrees 3 to 3.5 billion years ago. This was caused by a massive volcanic structure that is the largest in the solar system. These findings were published on March 2, 2016 in Nature by a mainly French team of researchers from Géosciences Paris Sud (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud), Géosciences Environnement Toulouse (CNRS/Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier/IRD) and the Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory (CNRS/École polytechnique/UPMC/ENS), along with a researcher from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (University of Arizona).

Understanding the topography of Mars before the tilt will enable researchers to study the planet’s primitive climate. Using climate models from the Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory, François Forget (CNRS) and Martin Turbet (UMPC) have shown that, with a cold climate and an atmosphere denser than it is today, ice accumulated at around latitude 25° south in regions corresponding to the sources of now-dry river beds.

From now on, this new geography will have to be taken into account when studying early Mars to look for traces of life or an ocean, for instance.


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Press release for France

Interview with Martin Turbet, a doctoral student who participated in this scientific adventure

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