Snow in the Forecast

September 30, 2008 at 6:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yes, there is snow in the forecast.  But not here.  The snow is falling on Mars!

The Phoenix lander touched down in the Martian arctic regions last June.  The primary mission has been digging into the soil, analyzing Matian minerals and ices.  But it has also been looking up on a daily basis.

Phoenix has made pictures of ice crystal clouds passing high overhead (like cirrus clouds on earth).  And it has also used LIDAR, (similar to radar, but using laser light) to image those clouds, and here is what it has seen:

Those “Fall Streaks” on the image are clear indications of streaks of ice crstals (snow) falling from the clouds and drifting down.  Of course, they evaporate long before they make it to the ground.  But it is hoped that before the Phoenix mission ends in November, we may actually see snow making it down to the ground.

You can learn a lot more about the Martian snow from The Planetary Society at:

http://www.planetary.org/news/2008/0930_Phoenix_Detects_Falling_Snow_Digs_up.html

Chief Meteorologist David Finfrock

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