Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: It's the Freakiest Sno-o-o-ow

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's the Freakiest Sno-o-o-ow

Get out the sleds! It's only September, but it's already started to snow.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) it's on another planet. The Phoenix Mars lander has identified snow falling in the Martian atmosphere from clouds two-and-a-half miles above the surface. In a masterpiece of understatement, James Whiteway of Toronto's York University said, "Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars." I'm relieved that we've settled that issue. I'm sure a number of people are certain they saw it snow on Mars in Santa Claus Versus the Martians.

The snow seems to be evaporating before it actually reaches the surface, but if there's snow, it's possible that at warmer times there's rain. Part of the lander's mission was to identify water on the surface, but although ice has been found, there's nothing in liquid form. The lander (and its mission) only has a few weeks of life left. It's powered by solar panels, and the sun has begun to go below the horizon. Once the sun no longer rises for the season, Phoenix will shut down forever. So let's hope the snowfall becomes measurable soon.


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