Cloudy Days On Mars, Spotted By NASA’s Insight – Precipitations Expected On The Red Planet?

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On Mars, you could very well spend some time by checking out the Martian clouds which are a pretty impressive view. Of course, you can do this among other cool activities such as listening to the Marsquakes and checking out the rocks around you.

Now, NASA’s Mars Insider lander sent back to Earth a photo which has been taken in the flatlands of Elysium Planitia and is showing some drifting clouds at the sunset on April 25.

We used to think about the Red Planet as being really cold, dead and dry. So how come there are clouds there? Back in school, we learned the most elementary thing – that clouds are made of water vapor and this water vapor eventually falls on the surface as rain or snow.

Does this mean that there’s rain or snow on Mars? Of course not, but what’s the explanation then?

Clouds and precipitation on Mars

“There is actually more water vapor in the Martian atmosphere than in the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere,” NASA’s Armin Kleinboehl said a few years ago.

It seems that the clouds on Mars are probably made up of water ice. This is just the thin ice fog and haze that can form on really chilly days when we don’t see any precipitations.

CNET notes that while the thin atmosphere and cold temperatures on Mars keep these frozen clouds from ever falling in the form of rain and snow that we see here on Earth, there is actually a type of precipitation on Mars.

“This precipitation most likely takes the form of frost,” NASA explains.

The space agency continues and says that “The ground is likely to be colder than the air (especially on cold clear nights), and so air hitting the ground cools and the water freezes to the ground as frost. Viking II (a Mars lander in the 1970s) saw frost on the ground some mornings.”