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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Could there be snow on Mars?

In the northern hemisphere, Christmas is often described as a cold and snowy day. What about Mars? Could also be a snowy Mars like Earth? According to Paul Hayne, a researchers of Jet Propulsion Laboratory at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the author of a publication on the snow in the Icarus journal said, "Yes, there will be a white Christmas in the south pole of Mars." However, do not imagine snow on Mars will be the same with on Earth, both its formation and composition.
Mars' thick northern ice cap is about the size of Texas. (Picture from: http://news.discovery.com/)
The Martian atmosphere is very dry and composed of 95 percent carbon dioxide. When the snow on Earth is composed of water, it will snow on Mars are composed of solidified carbon dioxide, often called dry ice. "When the temperature drops below the freezing point of CO2 (-128 degrees Celsius on Mars), especially in the winter at the poles, CO2 condenses to form ice," said Takeshi Kuroda from Tohoku University.

Kuroda is doing research on Martian clouds said, the process of freezing CO2 mass change the atmosphere of Mars. Based on measurements by the Viking spacecraft, the process variation impact on the Martian surface pressure by 25 percent.

Processes on Mars is equivalent to the Earth's dominant nitrogen, and other gases freeze and fall as rain. The difference, in the present Mars has a thin atmosphere, carbon dioxide does not undergo a phase change in the order of the gas to liquid and then solid, but directly from the gas phase to the solid phase.

"It's interesting. 's Not analogous to the Earth," Hayne said as quoted by Discovery, on Monday, December 23, 2013. Hayne conducted two analyzes to determine the contribution of the CO2's solid process in the Martian atmosphere into the snow on the amount of ice in the Martian south pole.
  • First, based on data obtained from the Mars Climate Sounder instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. By looking turbidity and transparency in the cloud, scientists estimate the amount of ice in the Martian atmosphere. As a result, 10 percent of the polar ice is a result of CO2 that turned into snow.
  • Second, Hayne analyze atmospheric cooling speed, using temperature data from the Mars Climate Sounder instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, and then converts it into snow formation rate value. The result is the same, the contribution of snow on the ice is 10 percent.
Although snow may occur, no one has ever seen snow on Mars. Snow on Mars requires extremely cold temperatures so that the spacecraft will not work. Hayne also said that based on laboratory experiments, the snow on Mars could be anticlimactic. Rather than humans can see the snow that can be grasped, CO2 snow is composed of no more than one tenth of a millimeter. So the snow on Mars is more similar to the dust or dry ice dust. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | NEWS DISCOVERY]
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