Our planet is in a remarkably circular orbit around the Sun, but as new research points out, Earth’s orbit sometimes experiences a slight jolt, thanks to the combined gravitational influence of Jupiter and Venus. Incredibly, this cycle has been going on for at least 215 million years—and one scientist suggests it could possibly have influenced the trajectory of life on this planet, according to the new study published yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Jupiter and Venus elongate Earth’s orbit to a tiny but measurable degree every 405,000 years, explained Dennis V. Kent, the lead author of the new study and a professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Kent believes this highly predictable and long-running celestial pattern could be used to study geological changes on Earth and subsequent environmental and ecological shifts—and because this cycle can be traced back to the Late Triassic Era, it could even tell us something about the dinosaurs.
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