On Mars are powerful, but short-lived snow storm

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2017-08-23 16:00:06

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On Mars are powerful, but short-lived snow storm Source:

Mars is cold, dusty and dry, however, it turns out, is not all features of the red planet. The fact that with nightfall the atmosphere is able to generate an unexpected snow storm. According to a recent study when the Sun sets over the horizon, and the temperature is reduced, on the planet there are often strong snow Blizzard, with powerful winds.

The Discovery, made by a group of scientists at the French University of Pierre and Marie Curie under the direction of planetary scientist and expert on the dynamics of the atmospheres of the planets America Spiga, tells us about how little we actually know about the weather of Mars. And the new parts may one day be useful to future colonizers of this planet.

"We first learned about the presence of powerful snow storms and ice microprivod on Mars. For this purpose we used a special small-scale modeling, which allowed us to interpret the occurring atmospheric changes occurring on this planet," — shared Spiga in an interview with New Scientist.

These changes were observed landing module space Agency NASA "Phoenix" in 2008, which found water ice in the Martian soil evidence of possible snowfall. But finally, these data have not been explained by scientists.

In the new study, the researchers used data from the "Phoenix", as well as observations of spacecraft Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Until now it was thought that the snow falling from Martian clouds low, is deposited on the surface of the planet slowly, in almost windless conditions. However, it was found that the particles of water ice reach the surface of the red planet in a few minutes that says about the harsh and fleeting nature of this process.

It is started as a result of radiation cooling, when the heat is sharply released from the Martian atmosphere. A team of scientists has calculated that the temperature in the icy Martian clouds this time can be dramatically reduced at 4 degrees Celsius per hour. Rising warm air from the planet's surface is mixed with the descending colder air masses, and strong micropores wind with a speed of 10 meters per second suddenly drop to the snow mass.

These mini-blizzards was quite a surprise to scientists, but the actual amount of lost snow, the calculations show, is quite low.

"because the water in the atmosphere of Mars is almost no snow there are very few. Snowman, you are unlikely to collect. And on the slopes, you are also likely to go can not" — explains Spiga.

Scientists believe that the result of this process is heavy snow cover on the Martian surface is formed by the frozen layer. As for why the researchers had never been found on Mars such a snow storm, then, according to Spiga, now do they succeeded thanks to the combination of three analyses of data, General climate data, modelling turbulence air masses and also local analysis and prediction of weather conditions.

"It's like taking apart a nesting doll. With each new figure the image and figures on it become clearer and clearer", — said the planetary scientist Paul Hayne from the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA, who did not participate in this study.

If the analysis is correct, it turns out that the future Martian colonists will be able to find the snow not only on the polar caps of the red planet, but generally in any region of our planetary neighbor, which is the process of radiative cooling, which is the trigger such snow micropolygon.

"the wind at least and a short but quite powerful. As they often appear in the lower atmosphere, it is likely that in future missions to Mars will have to take into account this phenomenon, if we want to avoid turbulence and to enhance the safety of future landings on the planet's surface", — added Frank Montmessin of the French National center for scientific research, who took part in this work.

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