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NASA Phoenix Lander Detected Falling Snow on Mars

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NASA Phoenix Lander Detected Falling Snow on Mars

Post  Admin on Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:40 am

NASA Mars Lander Sees Falling Snow, Soil Data Suggest Liquid Past

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds. Spacecraft soil experiments also have provided evidence of past interaction between minerals and liquid water, processes that occur on Earth.

A laser instrument designed to gather knowledge of how the atmosphere and surface interact on Mars has detected snow from clouds about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) above the spacecraft's landing site. Data show the snow vaporizing before reaching the ground.

"Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars," said Jim Whiteway, of York University, Toronto, lead scientist for the Canadian-supplied Meteorological Station on Phoenix. "We'll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground."

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Snow Gullies on Mars
NASA spacecraft may have finally found the mysterious source of gullies on Mars: melting snow.

February 19, 2003: When NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft photographed what looked like fresh rain gullies on Mars three years ago, researchers were baffled. The surface of Mars is extraordinarily dry. What could have carved the curious features? Now, thanks to data from the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, there's a new answer: melting snow.

Above: Inside Newton Basin on Mars, narrow channels run from the top down to the floor. These and other "gullies" were first discovered in high-resolution pictures taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.

The gullies were created by trickling water from melting snow packs, not underground springs or pressurized flows, as had been previously suggested, argues Philip Christensen, a professor at Arizona State University and the principal investigator for Odyssey's camera system. The water melts and could flow beneath snow packs where it is sheltered from rapid evaporation in the planet's thin atmosphere, Christensen explains in the Feb. 19th electronic issue of Nature.

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This false-color nadir image, taken by HRSC onboard Mars Express on 15 December 2004, shows a relatively thin cover of what is likely to be water snow over smooth plains.

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Heavy Frost, or Snow, Deposit at Viking Lander 2 Site

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NASA Phoenix Lander Detects Snow on Mars

Snow Falls on Mars?


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