Scientists just discovered snow on Mars

August 25, 2017 by  
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Forget everything you think you know about Mars. In a study published in Nature Geoscience , scientists confirm that there is snow on the Red Planet. It’s not what you might think, however. Mars experiences explosions of snow known as “ice microbursts” that only occur in the shadows and are very unlike snowfall on Earth. This finding is challenging previous notions about the planet’s history and the likelihood of future generations colonizing it. On Mars, the clouds have to be very low to the surface (about 1 to 2 kilometers, or 0.61 to 1.24 miles), or else the snow will be annihilated before it even reaches the rusty soil. This is because the air pressure increases rapidly as it descends downwards. In turn, the local temperature is increased and snow reaches evaporation-ready temperatures. As IFLScience reports, scientists previously believed snow precipitation occurred only by “the slow sedimentation of individual particles.” The authors now know this isn’t the case. Their research shows that the sudden snow explosion mechanisms must have affected “Mars’ water cycle, past and present.” Related: NASA unveils plan to make oxygen on Mars Because the red planet’s atmosphere is incredibly thin, its thermal insulation is pretty low. At night, the mercury can drop as low as -73°C (-100°F) on the equator surface, and -125°C (-195°F) at the poles. When sunlight glances Mars, water at the equator is given just enough energy to evaporate. This results in the formation of low-pressure clouds — a phenomenon NASA is already tracking. Because the temperature of the Red Planet drops considerably at night, the rapid and localized redistribution of heat results in air currents becoming unstable. Water ice crystals then fall out in rapid succession. Some crystals may reach the surface, but others sublimate into a gas . The streaks of snowfall that fail to reach the surface are known as “virgas.” For now, only robots are able to experience Mars’ unique snowfall. But if humans ever do colonize Mars — a feat Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are ambitious to see accomplished in their lifetimes , maybe we’ll get to experience the planet’s unique weather patterns firsthand. + Nature Geoscience Via IFLScience  Images via Pixabay , NASA/JPL

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Scientists just discovered snow on Mars

Climate Change in Middle Earth: Supercomputer Creates Real Weather Patterns for J.R. Tolkien’s Fictional World

December 9, 2013 by  
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Image via Warner Bros Middle Earth might be a fictional place, but thanks to a powerful supercomputer at Bristol University, its weather patterns are more real than ever. Dr. Dan Lunt, an expert on past climate change , used Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkein’s famously detailed maps to make surprisingly accurate estimations of the weather Gandalf,  Frodo Baggins , Aragorn, Legolas, Gollum and all the other timeless characters would have encountered during their quests throughout Middle Earth . The success of Lunt’s climate prediction model is due in part to the fact that Tolkein had the good sense to include lots of mountains in his fictional geography. The result is an accurate picture of 70 years of weather in different parts of Middle Earth. Read the rest of Climate Change in Middle Earth: Supercomputer Creates Real Weather Patterns for J.R. Tolkien’s Fictional World Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bristol university , Climate Change , climate change in Middle Earth , climate maps , climate maps of Tolkien’s middle earth , Dr. Dan Lunt , JRR Tolkien , lord of the rings , Lord of the Rings climate map , mapping middle earth , middle earth , weather patterns , weather predictions        

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Climate Change in Middle Earth: Supercomputer Creates Real Weather Patterns for J.R. Tolkien’s Fictional World

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