Researchers reveal how snow falling on Neptune might look like

Researchers reveal how snow falling on Neptune might look like

By combining computer models and data provided by the Phoenix Mars Lander, a team of researchers has tried to show Neptune's diamond rain or how snow falling on the rust-colored surface of Mars might look like.

The Phoenix Mars Lander captured snowfall on Mars in 2009 with the help of its laser instrument. A team of researchers led by Aymeric Spiga of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique in Paris took those observations and applied its expertise in numerical modeling of planetary atmospheres to reveal what a phenomenon that we can not see.

Computer models allowed Spiga and his colleagues to discover that a strange nighttime phenomenon that results in "microbursts" of lengthy snowstorms occur on planets like Mars and Neptune.

Sharing their study, Spiga said, “Those storms happen because water-ice particles within clouds are very efficient at emitting infrared light at night. So clouds strongly cool the atmosphere nearby. This creates a very cold layer of air on top of a warmer layer of air. This causes convection and strong winds and mixing ensue.”

During the day on Mars, cloud particles absorb light and warm up the atmosphere. At nights in certain areas, water-ice clouds form, leading to icy precipitation.

Spiga and colleagues reported their study in the latest issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.