NASA’s newest pictures seize the summary fantastic thing about snow dunes on Mars

Winter has arrived right here on the Earth’s Northern hemisphere, and a few of you had been fortunate sufficient to have a white Christmas. However do you know that winter can also be occurring on Mars? With temperatures as little as -120° C, how can it not?

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter just lately captured gorgeous pictures of snowy dunes on the Crimson Planet, giving us a glimpse of what winter seems like on our neighboring planet. They aren’t solely visually hanging, however in addition they present helpful details about the Martian local weather.

A few of the coldest temperatures happen at Mars’ poles, the place it will get as little as -190° F (-123° C). However as NASA explains, it’s nonetheless not the dreamy snowy panorama you may see within the Rocky Mountains. “No area of Mars will get various toes of snow, most of which falls over extraordinarily flat areas,” NASA explains. “And the Crimson Planet’s elliptical orbit means it takes many extra months for winter to return round: a single Mars 12 months is round two Earth years.” The orbiter’s Excessive Decision Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) peered by way of the clouds, taking some pictures of the winter wonderland on the Crimson Planet.

NASA additional explains that the snow on Mars isn’t fairly the identical because the one we’ve right here on Earth- It is available in two varieties: water ice and carbon dioxide, or dry ice. “As a result of Martian air is so skinny and the temperatures so chilly, water-ice snow sublimates, or turns into a fuel, earlier than it even touches the bottom,” the assertion reads. “Dry-ice snow truly does attain the bottom.”

So, though Martian snow and excessive temperatures aren’t precisely good for a snowball struggle, they’re equally photogenic as contemporary snow on Earth. Check out extra pictures beneath and skim extra on NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website.


A layer of carbon dioxide frost (dry ice) on the floor of Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/College of Arizona

Water ice frozen within the soil splits the bottom into polygons. Erosion of the channels forming the boundaries of the polygons by dry ice sublimating within the spring provides loads of twists and turns to them. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/College of Arizona

A novel polar dune subject throughout northern spring.
The primary “megadune” formation contains large crescent-shaped dunes known as “barchans,” which have been migrating (from upper-right to lower-left) over the previous a number of centuries or extra.
Mild-toned seasonal carbon dioxide frost and ice that gathered over the winter nonetheless covers the vast majority of the floor, and is now beginning to defrost and sublimate in advanced patterns. (This is dependent upon the slope facet and incoming photo voltaic illumination). As frost is eliminated, the darker “coal-black” nature of the dune sand is revealed. For instance, evaluate with this picture taken in summer time, when frost is gone and the dunes are migrating. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/College of Arizona

This image was taken far north of the equator simply two days after the winter solstice when the Solar was only a few levels above the horizon. Sand dunes are shifting throughout this panorama from prime left to backside proper. Winter frost covers the colder, north-facing half of every dune (however not the hotter south-facing half). The frost here’s a combination of carbon dioxide ice and water ice and can disappear in a number of months when spring arrives. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/College of Arizona

[via Digital Trends]