Winter has arrived here on the Earth’s Northern hemisphere, and some of you were lucky enough to have a white Christmas. But did you know that winter is also happening on Mars? With temperatures as low as -120° C, how can it not?
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recently captured stunning photos of snowy dunes on the Red Planet, giving us a glimpse of what winter looks like on our neighboring planet. They are not only visually striking, but they also provide valuable information about the Martian climate.
Some of the coldest temperatures occur at Mars’ poles, where it gets as low as -190° F (-123° C). But as NASA explains, it’s still not the dreamy snowy landscape you can see in the Rocky Mountains. “No region of Mars gets more than a few feet of snow, most of which falls over extremely flat areas,” NASA explains. “And the Red Planet’s elliptical orbit means it takes many more months for winter to come around: a single Mars year is around two Earth years.” The orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) peered through the clouds, taking some photos of the winter wonderland on the Red Planet.
NASA further explains that the snow on Mars isn’t quite the same as the one we have here on Earth- It comes in two varieties: water ice and carbon dioxide, or dry ice. “Because Martian air is so thin and the temperatures so cold, water-ice snow sublimates, or becomes a gas, before it even touches the ground,” the statement reads. “Dry-ice snow actually does reach the ground.”
So, even though Martian snow and extreme temperatures aren’t exactly perfect for a snowball fight, they’re equally photogenic as fresh snow on Earth. Take a look at more photos below and read more on NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website.
[via Digital Trends]
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