Frozen ice on the ground left polygonal patterns on the Martian surface. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, University of Arizona)
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ATLANTA – Mars may seem like a dry and desolate place, but according to a study, the red planet turns into another winter wonderland. New video shared by NASA.
It’s late winter in Mars’ Northern Hemisphere, where the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter are exploring an ancient river delta that once fed into the Jezero crater billions of years ago.
As a major feature of the planet, dust also controls Martian weather. Dust usually heralds the arrival of winter, but the planet is no stranger to snow, ice and frost. Temperatures at the poles of Mars can drop as low as minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are two types of snow on Mars. One of them is the kind we live on Earth, formed from frozen water. The thin Martian air and sub-zero temperatures mean that traditional snow on Mars sublimates, or goes directly from a solid to a gas, before it hits the ground.
Another type of Martian snow is carbon dioxide-based, or dry ice, and can land on the surface. Plain regions of Mars near the poles tend to receive several feet of snow.
“There are enough waterfalls that you can snowshoe through,” said Sylvain Piqueux, a Mars scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. NASA release. “If you’re looking to ski, you’re going to have to go into a crater or chasm where snow can build up on a slope.”
So far, no orbiter or rover has been able to see snowfall on the red planet, because the weather phenomenon only occurs at the poles under nighttime cloud cover. Orbital cameras can’t see through clouds, and no robotic explorers have been designed to survive the freezing temperatures at the poles.
However, the Mars Climate Sound instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can detect light that is invisible to the human eye. He discovered carbon dioxide snow falling on the poles of Mars. The phoenix lander, The 2008 Mars lander also used one of its laser instruments to detect water-ice snow from about 1,000 miles from the Martian north pole.
Thanks to photographers, we know that snowflakes on Earth are unique and six-sided. Under a microscope, Martian snowflakes probably look a little different.
“Because carbon dioxide ice has four symmetries, we know that dry ice snowflakes will be cubic,” Piqueux said. “Thanks to the Mars Climate Sounder, we can tell these snowflakes will be smaller than the width of a human hair.”
Ice and carbon dioxide-based frosts also form on Mars, and they can occur further away from the poles. The Odyssey orbiter (which entered Mars orbit in 2001) watched frost form and turn to gas in sunlight, while the Viking landers saw icy frost when they reached Mars in the 1970s.
In late winter, seasonal ice melts and turns into gas, creating unique shapes that remind NASA scientists of Swiss cheese, Dalmatian spots, fried eggs, spiders and other unusual combinations.
during Winter in Jezero Craterrecent highs have been around 8F and lows have been minus 120F.
Meanwhile, watch Gale Crater in the Southern Hemisphere Near the Martian equator, the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012, experiences a high of 5 F and a low of minus 105 F.
Seasons on Mars tend to last longer because the planet’s oval-shaped orbit around the Sun means that one Martian year is 687 days, or about two Earth years.
NASA scientists celebrated the new year of Mars in December. 26, which coincides with the arrival of the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.
“Scientists count Martian years starting from the planet’s 1955 northern vernal equinox — an arbitrary point, but it’s useful to have a system,” he said. NASA Mars Facebook page. “Numbering Martian years helps scientists keep track of long-term observations, such as weather data collected by NASA spacecraft over decades.”
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