NASA Finds Snow on Mars

Cool:

The snow on Mars fell from clouds around the planet’s south pole during the Martian winter spanning 2006 and 2007, with scientists discovering it only after sifting through observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

“These are the first definitive detections of carbon-dioxide snow clouds,” lead author Paul Hayne, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. “We firmly establish the clouds are composed of carbon dioxide — flakes of Martian air — and they are thick enough to result in snowfall accumulation at the surface.”

The find means Mars hosts two different kinds of snowfall. In 2008, NASA’s Phoenix lander observed water-ice snow — the stuff we’re familiar with here on Earth — falling near the Red Planet’s north pole.

The research team examined measurements the Mars Climate Sounder made while looking at clouds — including one behemoth 300 miles (500 kilometers) wide — from directly overhead, and from off to the side. These combined observations clearly revealed dry-ice snow falling through the Red Planet’s skies, researchers said.

“One line of evidence for snow is that the carbon-dioxide ice particles in the clouds are large enough to fall to the ground during the lifespan of the clouds,” said co-author David Kass, also of JPL. “Another comes from observations when the instrument is pointed toward the horizon, instead of down at the surface.”

via Yahoo! News.

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  1. Reblogged this on Gigable – Tech Blog.

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