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We've Just Discovered that Martian Nights See Snowstorms

And when you think about it, that says a LOT about what else we could discover on the Red Planet.

Space. The final frontier. It just got a little more interesting. Here's why:

We Now Know, Theoretically, That Mars Gets Snowstorms. And They're Not Much Different Than What We Experience Here on Earth.

An unprecedented discovery, really, given how scientists for years didn't think the Martian atmosphere, as dry as it always is, was capable enough to produce anything H2O related. Additionally, the fact that gravity plays a role with how anything falls, IF (and that was always a big IF) there ever was a cooling in the upper atmosphere and flakes do develop, they'll never reach the Martian ground.

The old theory has melted away, though, as it turns out that scientists recently discovered via computer model another convection mechanism possible to prove that anyone can actually celebrate Christmas the right way on our neighboring planet -- without nasty weather repercussions: it's literally all about sheer physics.

Thanks to "Microbursts," Mars May Actually See a LOT of Snow

And this is largely due to the fact that convection, the process that makes snowfall possible, is quite simple in theory. All you need is warmer air below -- and colder air above.

That's why we don't see massive icicles falling on us during winter. As the ice drifts downward, the warmer air melts it and turns it into soft flakes.

But what is a "microburst"? Literally, it's the opposite of tornadoes.

Before you get scared at how that might look, just notice that the pressure and force ends up going down (versus up) all due to the cooling of the night air amid the icy clouds of Mars. They end up being so strong that the results trigger microbursts, which dump a ton of moisture -- creating actual snowstorms. Sort of like lake effect on Michigan or Illinois, only just way more abrupt.

The beauty of this theory is that it definitely explains a lot of the strange events the most recent Phoenix lander from NASA experienced on Mars having to do with odd weather conditions, but what's even more interesting is that right here on Earth we experience the same micro burst phenomenon all the time.

And that should open a few more eyes: after all, we don't see Mars as anything remotely similar to our own Earth. But the fact is this -- it's a planet. A neighboring planet. With an atmosphere. And now we're seeing considerable evidence that water is most definitely a constant there on the Red Planet, so what does that say about the potential for life?

A lot. Take very serious note.

Back on the subject of microbursts, of course.... Thankfully, they are generally not nearly as dangerous as twisters when you think about it. A tornado pulls from the ground; a micro burst pushes to the ground via a rapid downdraft, so thankfully no homes ripped completely from the ground. Wind speed is pretty comparable, though, so you'd feel it; but if you happen to be in the eye of the microburst, all you'd feel is the downpour of whatever the burst brings from the atmosphere.

Simply Put, It's a Sound Theory -- One That Could Be Proven One Day

The conditions need to be absolutely correct. For the most part, it has to happen at night. And if you were to ever experience snowfall on Mars, you'd have to be in the right part of the burst (or else chances are you'd be blown clear backward by the outflow or vortex created).

Personally, I'd rather settle for being Captain Blondebeard listening to Disco music while farming in my own feces than experiencing a Martian micro burst in the middle of a red wasteland. That's my opinion.

Pierre Roustan
Pierre Roustan

I am an author, adventurer, and father, living with my wife, four daughters and one son in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I've trekked through tundras, waded through swamps, wandered through deserts, and swam in the Great Barrier Reef.

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