Spacecraft detects snow falling on Mars!
2012-09-17 0:00

From: NBCNews.com

A spacecraft orbiting Mars has detected carbon dioxide snow falling on the Red Planet, making Mars the only body in the solar system known to host this weird weather phenomenon.

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). The Martian south pole hosts a frozen carbon dioxide — or "dry ice" — cap year-round, and the new discovery may help explain how it formed and persists, researchers said.


Researchers have calculated that carbon dioxide snow particles on Mars are roughly the size of a human red blood cell. Martian snow is depicted in this artist’s rendering as a mist or fog that eventually settles to the surface.

"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.

Hayne and his team studied data gathered by MRO’s Mars Climate Sounder instrument during the Red Planet’s southern winter in 2006-2007. This instrument measures brightness in nine different wavelengths of visible and infrared light, allowing scientists to learn key characteristics of the particles and gases in the Martian atmosphere, such as their sizes and concentrations.

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.


NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected carbon-dioxide snow clouds on Mars and evidence of carbon-dioxide snow falling to the surface. Deposits of small particles of carbon-dioxide ice are formed by snowfall from carbon-dioxide clouds. This map shows the distribution of small-grain carbon-dioxide ice deposits formed by snowfall over Mars’ south polar cap. It is based on infrared measurements by the Mars Climate Sounder instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.


"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."

"The infrared spectra signature of the clouds viewed from this angle is clearly carbon-dioxide ice particles, and they extend to the surface," Kass added. "By observing this way, the Mars Climate Sounder is able to distinguish the particles in the atmosphere from the dry ice on the surface."

Astronomers still aren’t entirely sure how the dry ice sustaining Mars’ south polar cap — the only place where frozen carbon dioxide exists year-round on the planet’s surface — is deposited. It could come from snowfall, or the stuff may freeze out of the air at ground level, researchers said.

[...]


Read the full article at: msnbc.msn.com






Related Articles
The 9/11 Monument on Mars
Invading Mars for the good of mankind
Five "Cursed" Mars Missions
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin comments on the "Monolith" on Mars Moon Phobos: "God put it there"
Space weather expert has ominous forecast
The Vanishing Mars Probes: 1989/1993


Latest News from our Front Page

Vikings Were Pioneers of Craft and International Trade
2015-02-26 23:30
The connections between technology, urban trading, and international economics which have come to define modern living are nothing new. Back in the first millennium AD, the Vikings were expert at exploring these very issues. While the Vikings are "gone" their legacy is remembered, such as at the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in York. The Norsemen's military prowess and exploration are more ...
Just Based on DNA, Scientists Can Construct an Image of Your Face
2015-02-26 22:05
Putting pencil to paper has been the tried-and-true method to illustrate the faces of wanted criminals, but new technology is changing this traditional approach. DNA, rather than an artist’s skill, is an emerging tool to recreate the face behind a crime. The new forensic technique is called DNA phenotyping. It relies on DNA, found for instance in a drop of blood, ...
FCC Votes In Favor Of Obama's Net Neutrality - Has The Slippery Slope To Web Censorship Begun?
2015-02-26 20:14
"An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life," according to President Obama and it appears his perspective on the heavy hand of government regulation inserting itself into the last bastion of freedom and dynamism in the US economy, is how best to achieve "openness." Having pressured FCC's Tom Wheeler, the vote ...
The Endgame: White Genocide
2015-02-25 21:06
Made by youtube.com/ThisisEuropa facebook.com/ThisIsEuropa “There is no place in modern Europe for ethnically pure states. That’s a 19th century idea and we are trying to transition into the 21st century, and we are going to do it with multi-ethnic states.” – Wesley Clark, U.S. general, ex-NATO Supreme Commander, talking about the NATO bombing of Serbia, 1999. What is White Genocide? ▪ Moving millions of ...
Former German Lawyer Sylvia Stolz has been jailed again
2015-02-26 3:28
Sylvia Stolz, the former defence attorney for Ernst Zundel has been convicted today in a Munich court, once again under the tyrannical BRD laws concerning so-called “holocaust denial” and thereby “inciting racial hatred”. She was sentenced to 20 months in prison with no possibility of parole. The case stems from her presentation at the AZK in Switzerland in 2012 where ...
More News »