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Mars Space

Phoenix Lander Discovers Nighttime Snowfall On Mars 48

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the time-to-build-a-martian-snowman dept.
Many outlets are reporting on the recently released results of the various experiments and observations of NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander. Most notable is the discovery of nighttime snowfall on the planet, lending credibility to the idea of a hypothesized active water cycle based on earlier data collection. "The papers rely on evidence from a variety of the instruments on the lander, and the description of the data provides an impressive catalog of the various ways that Phoenix could prod and query the Martian pole. In the months before Martian winter shut the lander down, it managed to dig a dozen trenches, taking soil samples from each. These samples went into wet and dry chemistry labs, had their conductivity tested, and were even examined using an atomic force microscope. Meanwhile, cameras and a LIDAR system (a laser-based range detector) scanned the surroundings. The overall conclusion is that the northern pole has an active water cycle. This had been suggested by a variety of evidence from orbital sensors, as well early images returned from Phoenix. It's also not a huge shock, given the seasonal growth and retreat of the polar ice cap. Still, Phoenix provided some significant details on the cycling of water in the area where it landed."
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Phoenix Lander Discovers Nighttime Snowfall On Mars

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  • by ciderVisor (1318765) on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:04PM (#28573619)

    to build a snowmartian.

  • So they can now predict with greater certainty the weather on Mars than they can on Earth. I love this place.
  • by Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:08PM (#28573659)
    Yellow snow..
  • Blue $ky (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:22PM (#28573769)

    Here's my proposal:

    1) Build water plant on mars
    2) Wait until the earth's drinkable water supply runs out
    3) Sell martian water to the middle east at $4.00 a gallon
    4) ???
    5) Profit!

    Now all we need to do is find a way to create some domes up there.

    • Re:Blue $ky (Score:4, Funny)

      by kungfugleek (1314949) on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:48PM (#28573993)

      Now all we need to do is find a way to create some domes up there.

      Could probably just outsource that work to the Martians. I heard they work for Reece's Pieces.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Radtastic (671622)
      You need to rethink your marketing strategy. Bottled water in the US costs well over $4.00 per gallon when you buy 16oz or 20oz bottles individually.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Radtastic (671622)
        ok. Correction. Your marketing strategy is sound, it's the pricing strategy that can be improved :)
    • by maxume (22995)

      You left off poisoning the Great Lakes.

      And changing the laws of physics to make desalinization impossible.

      • by berwiki (989827)
        There isn't an efficient method for desalinization yet, and the great lakes are disgusting last time I checked.

        Amazing! Write a post about how women love me.
        • by maxume (22995)

          My home town pulls water of Lake Michigan and treats it for drinking water. Best municipal water I have had.

          Lakes Superior and Heron are at least as clean.

  • You know, when you have to squander the solace of a remote filming location to make your box office smash [wikipedia.org], the least you can do is clean up after yourself. Hollywood, can you please clean up all that fake snow you left on Mars?

  • by Bandman (86149) <bandmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:34PM (#28573907) Homepage

    Unless some of my very basic assumptions are wrong, this sort of cements the "active water cycle", doesn't it? I'm fairly certain that the Martian atmosphere won't tolerate something like methane snow, so what's left?

    • Unless some of my very basic assumptions are wrong, this sort of cements the "active water cycle", doesn't it? I'm fairly certain that the Martian atmosphere won't tolerate something like methane snow, so what's left?

      Well its a simple water cycle. It sublimates and then it solidifies. There is no direct evidence of a liquid phase yet. That would have to be underground.

  • I loved it when officials in the US government stated as fact that there was no water on Mars years ago. So will they still deny the facts? Probably.

    I would love to hear from those officials that denied water was present/possible on Mars in the past; for them to admit they were wrong! If not the individuals, at least the official governmental organizations that they represent.

    Maybe next time they will answer, We do not know but will keep an open mind and find out! or not.

    • They may refuse to listen, but I pray that one day their hearts will open to the gastronomic glory of Our Noodly Creator, who maketh the snow to fall on Mars like the Parmesan of Redemption on the Holy Meatball.

      • by H0p313ss (811249)

        They may refuse to listen, but I pray that one day their hearts will open to the gastronomic glory of Our Noodly Creator, who maketh the snow to fall on Mars like the Parmesan of Redemption on the Holy Meatball.

        Aw man... I skipped lunch and now you reminded me how hungry I am.... mmm... meatballs...

    • by benchbri (764527)
      Source for the US denying water on mars? You can detect water on mars with a telescope in your back yard, if you can see the northern hemisphere of mars. The entire northern ice cap (or most of it anyway) is water ice. Southern ice cap not so much, but the north has tons of water. We knew about this before Mariner. How to tell whether that white spot on the surface of mars is water ice or not is left as an exercise to the reader.
  • FTFA:

    But the really amazing data came from the LIDAR instrument, which was able to track the formation of the clouds at the atmosphere's boundary layer. Cloud formation became more pronounced as the summer gradually faded and the atmosphere cooled at night, and the scientists were eventually able to detect cirrus-like clouds as they dropped "tilted vertical sheets" of ice particles back to the surface of the planet. In short, they watched it snow.

    Leave it to us Canadians, we go to Mars to talk about the w [asc-csa.gc.ca]

  • I for one welcome our new snow overlords, of which no two are exactly alike.
  • Phoenix Lander Discoverth Green Thnowfall On Marth

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