Lidar Measurements of Snow Falling from Martian Clouds
September 30, 2008
The Canadian-built lidar aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander produced this graphic of a profile of a Martian cloud on the 99th sol, or Martian day, of the mission (Sept. 3, 2008). The vertical streaks at the base of the cloud on the right of the image show ice crystals falling from the cloud, similar to snow. The streaks are curved as the winds are faster around 3 kilometers (almost 2 miles) than at higher altitudes. Scientists are able to determine that the snow is water-based and not carbon-dioxide snow, since temperatures on Mars are currently too warm to support the latter.
Topics: Mare Boreum quadrangle, Mars, Phoenix, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Weather, Atmosphere of Mars, LIDAR, Snow, Precipitation, Climate of Mars, Unmanned spacecraft