Photo: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)
MIT researchers have found snowflakes in clouds on Mars.But the ice particles are not the kind you find on Earth (so relinquish your fantasies of little Martians building snowmen).
To begin with, the flakes are really really tiny — like the size of human red blood cells tiny. The flakes are also made out of carbon dioxide instead of water. This happens during the winter when temperatures drop to minus 193 degrees Fahrenheit, cold enough to freeze the gas, according to National Geographic’s Charles Q. Choi.
Because the particles are so small, they would probably look like fog as they fall to the planet’s surface, MIT assistant professor Kerri Cahoy said in a press release.
Since carbon dioxide makes up a majority of Mars’ atmosphere, researchers say knowing how it behaves will help them understand the red planet’s climate.
Knowing the size of the crystals also gives clues about the size and type of dust in the planet’s atmosphere, which is needed for the carbon dioxide to condense and form snow.
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