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Thu Jan 4, 2018, 09:31 PM

Does It Snow In Space?


By Brandon Specktor, Live Science Senior Writer | January 4, 2018 05:02pm ET

This week's winter storm leaves no doubt that snow feels right at home on planet Earth. But what are winter conditions like elsewhere in the universe? Will humans ever build a snowman on Saturn's moon Titan? Will someone have to shovel the Curiosity rover out of its parking spot on Mars?

The idea of interplanetary snow sounds reasonable: All you need is ice and something in the atmosphere for that ice to cling to, right? Alien meteorology is a tad more complicated than that, but emerging space science confirms that, yes, space snow is indeed a thing. [Mars Rover Curiosity's 7 Biggest Discoveries (So Far)]

The best-studied examples occur right next door on the Red Planet. Scientists have already observed snowfall several times on Mars. With an average temperature of about minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 60 degrees Celsius), the nearby planet is certainly cold enough for snow. In 2008, NASA's Phoenix lander caught water-ice snow the fluffy stuff we're used to on Earth falling near the planet's north pole.


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Does It Snow In Space?
This true-color image of Mars' north pole incorporates data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio; Mars Orbiter Camera data courtesy of NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This week's winter storm leaves no doubt that snow feels right at home on planet Earth. But what are winter conditions like elsewhere in the universe? Will humans ever build a snowman on Saturn's moon Titan? Will someone have to shovel the Curiosity rover out of its parking spot on Mars?

The idea of interplanetary snow sounds reasonable: All you need is ice and something in the atmosphere for that ice to cling to, right? Alien meteorology is a tad more complicated than that, but emerging space science confirms that, yes, space snow is indeed a thing. [Mars Rover Curiosity's 7 Biggest Discoveries (So Far)]

The best-studied examples occur right next door on the Red Planet. Scientists have already observed snowfall several times on Mars. With an average temperature of about minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 60 degrees Celsius), the nearby planet is certainly cold enough for snow. In 2008, NASA's Phoenix lander caught water-ice snow the fluffy stuff we're used to on Earth falling near the planet's north pole.

Meanwhile, the Martian south pole wears a cap of frozen carbon dioxide (aka, "dry ice" year round. In 2012, researchers spotted a dry-ice snow falling from Mars' atmosphere around the south pole for the first time.

More:
https://www.space.com/39284-does-it-snow-in-space.html?utm_source=notification

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