Mars might have intense snowstorms at night

James Marshall
August 23, 2017

Revising our understanding of the #Red Planet, a new study carried out by researchers at Universite Pierre Curie in Paris suggests that some areas of #Mars experience super-fast, turbulent #snowstorms at night.

The new findings, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggest that ice-water particles swirling in a storm hit the ground within minutes, rather than descending gently for hours.

The findings, led by Aymeric Spiga, a planetary scientist from the University Pierre and Marie Curie in France, has no doubt given the world a new insight into the climatic patterns of the Red Planet, which is expected pave new paths for the future explorers, attempting to colonizing the planet.

They wrote: "Just as it is the case on Earth, the strong horizontal and vertical convective currents developing below water clouds at night on Mars could be a source of atmospheric hazards for the robotic and human exploration of the Red Planet". The article, Snow precipitation on Mars driven by cloud-induced night-time convection, is available online.

Other findings in the study showed that snow storms occur nearly exclusively during Martian nightfall as the planet's clouds cool rapidly making them very turbulent when the sun disappears from the sky with no thick atmosphere to protect it.

They could be reason for previously unexplained precipitation signatures detected by the American space agency's Phoenix lander, scientists believe.

Both observations perplexed scientists at the time. The team fed the model with more detailed data obtained from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor.

He compared these Martian snowstorms to small, localised weather phenomena on Earth called microbursts, in which cold, dense air carrying snow or rain descend rapidly from a cloud.

The Martian atmosphere is 95 percent carbon dioxide (also present as frozen dry ice), along with two percent each argon and nitrogen, with trace amounts of oxygen, nitrogen oxide, neon, and krypton.

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