Spacecraft detects snow falling on Mars!
2012 09 17
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
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
Pentagon launching missile defense blimps to patrol East Coast
The US Army is set to begin testing its blimp-like surveillance airships, designed to help the military detect and destroy cruise missiles from attacking the nation’s capital and other East Coast cities.
The blimps at the center of the tests in Maryland are unmanned, 80-yard long, helium-filled aircraft that can float up to 10,000 feet in the air. At that height ...
Sony Just Canned 'The Interview' in the Wake of Terrorist Threat
Sony has cancelled the cinematic release of The Interview in the wake of its cyberattack after the five largest cinema chains in the country decided not to run the film.
"Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business," Sony wrote in its first statement on the matter, as reported ...
Sweden is so deranged, there are no words to describe it – Danish politician
Politically correct Sweden is such a deranged society that there is no term in social science sufficient enough to describe it – argues Pia Kjærsgaard the Danish People’s Party former leader
In this article in Den Korte Avis, Kjærsgaard marvels at the fact that the politically correct are so desperate that they have graduated from using worn-out epiteths such as neo-fascists, ...
U.N. sending thousands of Muslims to America
The federal government is preparing for another “surge” in refugees and this time they won’t be coming illegally from Central America.
The U.S. State Department announced this week that the first major contingent of Syrian refugees, 9,000 of them, have been hand-selected by the United Nations for resettlement into communities across the United States.
The announcement came Tuesday on the State Department’s ...
Why You Should Watch Beheading Videos
Modernity is a dream. It is a dream that we can make the world something other than what it is through technology, prosperity, and above all “education.”
People will able to pick their own “gender.” Different cultures, races, and religions can blend into one seamless, corporate-friendly whole. And violence and death, it is implied, will be wished out of existence.
Today, a ...
|More News » |