In winter, square snowflakes from dry ice fall on Mars – study

(ORDO NEWS) — The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured winter landscapes. The American Space Agency (NASA) has published on its website photos and videos of the huge ice dunes of the Red Planet.

Winter turns Mars into something spectacular. The temperature at its poles drops sharply to minus 90 degrees Celsius.

The NASA spacecraft has made several discoveries about the change of seasons on the planet. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been in orbit for over 16 years and has sent 436 terabits of data back to Earth.

Its main goal was to find evidence for the presence of water on Mars. As we found out, there are two types of snow on the planet – in the form of water crystals, as on Earth, and in the form of carbon dioxide, which is better known as dry ice.

Snow from the water dissipates before it sinks to the surface of Mars, and the second does not evaporate for a long time.

Snow falls in the coldest parts of the planet, where conditions are not suitable even for machinery. So photographs of these areas can only be taken from orbit.

According to NASA, dry ice molecules form a quadrilateral when frozen, so snowflakes are symmetrical and cube-shaped.

According to Sylvain Piquet, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, thanks to the climate sensor on Mars, it was possible to learn that these snowflakes are less than the width of a human hair. There is enough snow on the planet to be walked on with snowshoes.

By the end of winter, the ice begins to thaw, and the surface takes on incredible shapes that, according to scientists, look like scrambled eggs or Swiss cheese.

According to the US space agency, the melting causes a kind of eruption of geysers. Sunlight heats the gas, which evaporates rapidly, kicking up swirls of dust.


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