The impossible becomes possible on the planet Mars: discovery of frost, new perspectives for the future exploration of Mars.

HIBAPRESS-RABAT- Nature Geoscience magazine

For the first time, space probes have discovered frost at the Martian equator, where it was thought to be “impossible”! A discovery which, certainly, enriches our knowledge of the Red Planet by providing new clues about its atmosphere, its climate, its water cycle and by opening new perspectives for the future exploration of Mars.

The journal Nature Geoscience today published an article that describes the discovery of frost at the summits of the Tharsis volcanoes, a region of Mars that is home to numerous volcanoes, including Olympus Mons, the highest in the Solar System. The collaboration between the European Space Agency probes, Trace Gas Orbiter and Mars Express, made this surprising observation possible. The observed patches of frost, which are thin but widespread, represent approximately 150,000 tonnes of water, the equivalent of 60 Olympic swimming pools, which evaporate under the influence of the sun after a few hours of appearance. at sunrise.

This discovery challenges previous beliefs that frost formation at Mars’ equatorial latitudes was impossible due to the planet’s atmospheric conditions.

Researchers have identified a specific microclimate created by air circulation above the Tharsis volcanoes, favoring condensation and frost deposition, particularly in the shaded areas of volcanic calderas. Updraft winds carry moist air to higher altitudes, where it condenses into frost.

As Adomas Valantinas, the author of the study, points out, scientists thought “that it was impossible for frost to form around the equator of Mars, because the mixture of sunlight and thin atmosphere maintains the relatively high temperatures on the surface and at the tops of mountains, unlike what we observe on Earth, where we would expect to see frozen peaks. A micro-climate above the Tharsis volcanoes

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