Monday, December 5, 2011

Does it Snow on Mars?

Before the use of Mars rovers and satelites it was impossible to tell. Scientists wanted to observe the polar caps, but they are not tilted toward Earth. This made observing by telescope difficult. However, we now have satellites circling Mars that can observe much more - plus the Mars rovers. 

First a little about the polar caps.



(This is the southern polar cap on Mars)

At one time, they didn’t know if the polar caps were made up of water or carbon dioxide. The latest theory is that the central core is water and the seasonal deposits are carbon dioxide (dry ice). In other words, the water that is there never thaws because it is much too cold for the ice to melt. However, some of the dry ice (CO2) will turn back into gas because during the Mars summer it gets warm enough for that to happen. This is why both polar caps have been observed expanding and contracting.
But does it snow?





I’m getting to that. Radar on those Mars global surveyors have detected clouds that form at night over the polar caps. These clouds appear to be formed from dust and dry ice, which is believed to fall and form the polar caps. So from my research, snow falls in the form of dry ice or you could call it dry snow. This occurs at night at the polar caps. These clouds tend to disappear after sunrise. This means that explorers could get caught in a snow/dust storm if they’re there at night.




A few more facts:

The main difference between the northern polar cap is that all the dry ice melts in the summer. While at the southern polar cap, not all of it melts. 

Continual thawing, freezing and swirling dust cause layers and circular patterns to form.(Some of the patterns remind me of crop circles..lol.)

There is evidence that these layers of ice can move and some have half covered craters.

The average temperture at poles at night can drop to as low as -100C or -147F

Here is a brief video that shows the layers of ice.


12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

In other words, don't get caught outside at night at the poles. Although the snowfall of dry dry would be wild to witness.

Rusty Webb said...

Very cool. We should probably look for snowmen there for a sign of life then, because I doubt even those subterranean martians could resist coming up and building one.

Botanist said...

I agree with Alex...that would be a fantastic thing to see.

Cindy said...

Alex and Botanist: I guess I will have to use my imagination.

Rusty: Dry snow is probably too dry to pack. But maritians could come up with something...I'm sure.

Michael Offutt said...

I can tell that you're gearing up your brain to pound out that sequel. This is exciting. It's like watching your mind begin to collect data all the while you are spinning that story and finding the words.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

Weird that this post has been reposted as of today.

Cindy said...

I moved it back up on purpose, until I blog again. Whenever that might be....

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

Lazy.

Cindy said...

Oh, really....I was just going to ask you for an ARC of your book. I hope I'm not to lazy to handle it. :p

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

haha. Touche. I'll send you one. Shoot me an email at kavrik (at) hotmail (dot) com and I'll mail you one pronto.

I was actually going to ask you but I've been sitting on them wondering if I should just hide them under the bed.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey Cindy! Missed you this month for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Hope to see you again on January 4.

Cindy said...

Alex, sorry I missed it. I started a new job last week and it distracted me. Must focus!