Martian snow storms may put freeze on exploration
Mars experiences violent night-time snow storms, a study suggests.
Scientists simulated conditions on the red planet to show localised "microbursts" of snow can occur when water in Martian clouds cools at night.
The turbulent storms are thought to generate descending plumes of snow that in some places are deposited on the planet's surface. They could be the reason for unexplained precipitation signatures detected by the American space agency's Phoenix lander, scientists believe.
Martian snow storms could pose a potential danger to future human explorers visiting the planet, the experts warn.
Dr Aymeric Spiga, from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, and colleagues published their findings in the journal 'Nature Geoscience'.
They wrote: "Strong horizontal and vertical convective currents developing below water clouds at night on Mars could be a source of atmospheric hazards for the robotic and human exploration of the red planet."
Microbursts on Earth are found in strong thunderstorms and in effect are similar to a reverse tornado.