A team of researchers made an interesting discovery regarding the weather patterns on Mars, which can permanently change the way we saw the dry red planet. After simulating the Martian atmospheric conditions, they came to the conclusion that snowstorms might actually occur there.
Snowstorms in the Martian atmosphere
After looking at the data collected by NASA’s spacecrafts Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists were able to create an accurate simulator of the weather on the planet. They had observed how it exhibits some unusual temperature shifts, which eventually led to peculiar weather.
They developed a study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience. This is how they discovered the water-ice clouds hosted quite a big amount of air movement beneath them, all of this happening in Mars’ thin atmosphere. All these conditions looked like they could make snowstorms possible.
Also, they had some initial proof of such precipitations going on on Mars from the observations made by NASA’s Phoenix Lander. In 2008, it flew close to the Martian North Pole, capturing some images and more data indicating their presence.
Scientists simulated the weather conditions on Mars
Now, scientists pulled a numerical simulation of how these precipitations should look like. It proved that localized snowstorms, or ice microbursts, can occur. Snowstorms would be a perfect explanation for the mixing of air layers observed during nighttime, as well as the precipitation traces observed by the Phoenix Lander under the water-ice clouds.
However, these snowstorms don’t look like we would image them, as snow doesn’t really gather on the surface. There is not much water involved, so there can’t be much snow. Therefore, the first humans to set foot on Mars won’t find vast snowy plains over there.
Researchers think this snow is important for the planet’s water cycle. All the phenomena which take place in Mars’ atmosphere have a great impact on the distribution of water across the entire planet. Also, this information is valuable to decode the history of water on Mars.
Image source – The Verge.