NASA images reveal the eerie beauty of winter on Mars

Permafrost in the ground has left polygonal patterns on Mars. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, University of Arizona)

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ATLANTA – Mars may seem like a dry, desolate place, but the Red Planet is turning into an otherworldly winter wonderland New video shared by NASA.

It’s late winter in the northern hemisphere of Mars, and the Perseverance Rover and Inventive Helicopter are exploring an ancient river delta that once emptied into Jezero Crater billions of years ago.

As the planet’s main feature, it is dust that also drives Martian weather. Dust usually heralds the arrival of winter, but snow, ice and sleet are no strangers to the planet. At the poles of Mars, the temperature can drop to minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are two types of ice on Mars. One of them is the way we live on earth, which is made of frozen water. Thin Martian air and sub-zero temperatures mean that conventional snow sublimates, or goes directly from a solid to a gas, before it hits the ground on Mars.

The other type of Martian snow is based on carbon dioxide or dry ice and can land on the surface. In the flat areas near the poles, Mars typically gets a few meters of snow.

Sylvain Piccio, a Mars scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. NASA-Version. “If you want to ski, you have to go to a crater or slope where snow can accumulate on a sloped surface.”

So far, neither orbiters nor rovers have been able to see snow falling on the red planet, since the weather phenomenon occurs only at night at the poles below cloud cover. Cameras in orbit cannot see through the clouds, and robotic explorers capable of withstanding the freezing temperatures at the poles have not yet been developed.

Mottled carbon dioxide hailstones, or dry ice, can be seen inside a crater in winter in the southern hemisphere of Mars.
Mottled carbon dioxide hailstones, or dry ice, can be seen inside a crater in winter in the southern hemisphere of Mars. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

However, the Mars Climate Sounder on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can detect light that is invisible to the human eye. Carbon dioxide snow has been observed at the poles of Mars. the Phoenix Lander When it arrived on Mars in 2008, it also used one of its laser instruments to detect water ice from its location about 1,000 miles from Mars’ north pole.

Thanks to the paparazzi, we know that snowflakes are unique on Earth and six-sided. Under the microscope, Martian snowflakes probably look a little different.

“Because carbon dioxide ice has a symmetry of four, we know that the dry snowflakes will be cube-shaped,” Becchio said. “Thanks to the safer Martian climate, we can say that these snowflakes will be smaller than the width of a human hair.”

Ice and carbon dioxide also form on Mars, and it can form far from the poles. The Odyssey orbiter (which entered orbit of Mars in 2001) watched frost form and turn to gas in the sunlight, while the Viking lander discovered icy frost on Mars upon arrival in the 1970s.

At the end of winter, the season’s accumulated ice can melt and turn to gas, creating unique shapes that reminded NASA scientists of Swiss cheese, Dalmatian spots, fried eggs, spiders, and other unusual formations.

during Winter am Krater JezeroRecent highs have been around 8°F while lows have been around minus 120°F.

Meanwhile at Gale Crater in the Southern Hemisphere Near the Martian equator, the Curiosity rover that landed on Mars in 2012 showed highs of 5 degrees Fahrenheit and lows of minus 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Seasons on Mars tend to last longer because the planet’s elliptical orbit around the Sun means a Martian year is 687 days, or roughly two Earth years.

NASA scientists celebrated the Martian New Year on December 26, coinciding with the arrival of the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere.

“Scientists calculate Martian years beginning with the planet’s northern vernal equinox, which occurred in 1955 — an arbitrary starting point, but it helps keep order,” reads one post NASA Mars Facebook Page. “The numbering of the Martian years helps scientists keep track of long-term observations, such as B. Weather data collected over decades by NASA spacecraft.”


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