Skip to content
Search AI Powered

Latest Stories

Scientists Have Observed Snowstorms on Mars

Scientists Have Observed Snowstorms on Mars
Wikimedia Commons

Nighttime snowstorms on Mars caused by microbursts similar to those on Earth.

[DIGEST: Nature, ScienceAlert, New Scientist, JPL]

Earth is not the only planet in our solar system with dynamic weather patterns. All eight planets have unique atmospheric activities. New evidence observed on Mars shows intense snowstorms forming during the Martian night.

Because Mars has 99% less atmosphere than Earth, its temperature differences are much more pronounced. Semi-diurnal atmospheric tides cause the Martian atmosphere to experience temperatures shifts of up to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Atmospheric tides are caused by heating from the Sun and cooling at night. Recent observations, however, reveal how atmospheric tides cause violent nighttime snowstorms on Mars. As the atmosphere cools, water-ice particles in the upper atmosphere freeze and begin falling toward the surface as ice pellets. This creates violent blasts of winds known as microbursts, which also occur on Earth. Water vapor in the Martian atmosphere was previously thought to be too sparse to enable accumulating precipitation. Any snow that happened to reach the surface was assumed due to gravity. According to Armin Kleinboehl at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories, however, Mars has more water vapor in its upper atmosphere than Earth does in its upper atmosphere. This allows for more heat to be trapped and more precipitation to form.

Planetary scientist Aymeric Spiga of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, whose team discovered the snowstorms, ran simulations based on decades of observational data returned from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor. “It’s the first time anyone has shown that snowstorms, or water-ice microbursts, occur presently on Mars,” Spiga said. The closer to the ground the cloud, the more intense the precipitation and wind, and the more likely the snow is to reach the surface, Spiga explained.

In 2008, NASA’s Phoenix lander observed light snowflakes emanating from thin, wispy clouds in the Martian atmosphere. These clouds, referred to as virga streaks, are present in Earth’s upper atmosphere as well. Like Earth’s cirrus clouds, Martian virga streaks are precipitation from clouds that fail to reach the planet’s surface before evaporating or sublimating, a process in which frozen material is quickly heated into a gas. Based on the team’s simulations, Spiga concluded that the atmospheric tides on Mars are strong enough to cause snow to fall hundreds of times faster than was observed by Phoenix.

Carbon dioxide snow was also observed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2012. These findings will help scientists understand the Martian water cycle, and will have implications for future exploratory missions and human settlements on Mars.

More from News

shocked woman
Olivia Hutcherson on Unsplash

People Break Down The Most Brutal Insults They've Ever Heard

Let's be honest, it doesn't take any talent to insult someone.

After all, by the time children learn to speak in complete sentences, they're hurling sophisticated comebacks like:

Keep ReadingShow less
Dubai Princess Publicly Demands 'Divorce' From Cheating Royal Husband In Blunt Instagram Post

Dubai Princess Publicly Demands 'Divorce' From Cheating Royal Husband In Blunt Instagram Post

In an unexpected move, Her Highness Sheikha Mahra bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Dubai princess, addressed her husband's infidelity on Instagram, declaring their divorce.

Sheikha Mahra, who is daughter of the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wrote a scathing and short message to her husband.

Keep ReadingShow less
TikTok screenshot of Jodi Benson watching daughter sing; Ariel from the 1989 'The Little Mermaid'
@coolzjay/TikTok; Disney

'Little Mermaid' Star Jodi Benson Tears Up Watching Daughter Sing 'Part Of Your World' On Stage

A clip of the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson, watching her daughter Delaney play the lead role in a stage production of The Little Mermaid has gone viral, and Benson revealed she was moved to tears by the performance.

Posted to TikTok, the video has already garnered more than 4.2 million views in only a few days, and people on the platform said they got a bit emotional, as well.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale's Custom Swimsuit Sends Blunt Message To Her Haters Online

British actor Kate Beckinsale has no time for trolls criticizing her looks.

Instead of addressing haters' unsolicited assessments of her online, the 50-year-old actor came for them with a fierce fashion statement that said it all.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kit Connor
Karwai Tang/WireImage/GettyImages

Kit Connor Is Rumored To Be Top Choice For Gay MCU Superhero—And 'Heartstopper' Fans Are So Into It

Fans of Heartstopper were absolutely chuffed and crossing their fingers after hearing rumors that British actor Kit Connor was being considered to play a known LGBTQ+ superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The 20-year-old has been acting since he was just 8 in numerous TV and film projects, including roles in the 2018 films The Mercy, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. He also portrayed a teenaged Elton John in 2019's Rocketman and voiced Pantalaimon in the HBO fantasy series His Dark Materials.

Keep ReadingShow less