Mars Mission
01- Canals
02- Mariners
03- Riverbeds
04- Sub-surface Ice
05- Fleet
06- Martian Ice
07- Slope Streaks
08- Water Found
09- Phyllocian Era
10- Theikian Era
11- Siderikan Era
12- Martian Regions
13- Obliquity
14- Martian Tectonics
15- Topographic Morph
16- Crustal Magnetism
17- Original Impact
18- Polar Regions
19- Hydrated Minerals
20- Theikian Warming
21- New Phoenix Snow
22- Equatorial Glaciers
23- Ancient Ice
24- Continental Snow Drift

21 - New Phoenix Snow


 

The Phoenix spacecraft which landed on Mars' northern plains in May of last year carries a number of instruments to study the geochemistry of the Martian 'Arctic'. It's 'lidar' instrument sends a laser pulse of green light into the sky 100 times a second to continually collect data about the Martian climate.

In September of last year, the Phoenix saw large water ice-crystals, or snow, falling through the air. But unlike the artist's impression above, the 'lidar' instrument did not follow the snow to the ground, which suggests that it is vapourising before it reaches the ground. "This is a very important factor in the hydrological cycle on Mars with the exchange of water between the surface and the atmosphere." said Jim Whiteway, of York University, Toronto, lead scientist for the Canadian-supplied Meteorological Station on Phoenix. "Over the first two months of the mission, the humidity of the atmosphere was increasing as water [ice] sublimated from the ground and the polar ice cap; and over the second half of the mission we've started to see frost, ground fog and clouds. And this is now occurring every night," explained Dr Whiteway.

   
  Alan Lambert 2009