Planetary scientists found out the nature of the appearance of Martian clouds

According to the findings of American scientists from the University of Colorado in boulder, Martian clouds occur in the upper layers of Mars ‘ atmosphere may have alien origin. Scientists believe their existence they are obliged meteorites, whose burnt remains help water vapor to condense and turn into small ice. About the study the scientists reported in a new article in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Mystery Martian cloud

If you compare the atmosphere of Mars with other planets of the Solar system, it will be very pathetic. It is very low, the density is less than 1 percent of the earth. However, the atmosphere of the red planet was not always so weak. Scientists have reason to believe that she was so dense, allowing water in liquid form to remain on the surface of the planet.

Despite its current state, the atmosphere of Mars can surprise, for example, a product of the powerful dust storms covering the entire planet. One of these storms buried Marshad space Agency NASA “opportunity” that has ceased to go in touch after June 10, 2018. Scientists say that along with the ability to kill a defenseless Rover, the red planet’s atmosphere protects the surface from meteorite strikes, and is able to form clouds.

Clouds do not arise by themselves – for their formation need something that will help the water condense. This requires a “germ” of condensation of particles that “stick” the first water molecules, which then attract others and form a drop. On Earth in the role of such embryos can be micro particles of dust, microbes, or particles of soot from the emissions of volcanoes and the exhausts of cars. Over the last few decades, physicists have found evidence in favor of this, but they failed to explain how clouds appear where there’s dust, cars or volcanoes on the oceans and forests.

Moreover, recently some scholars have even begun to suspect that the birth of certain types of clouds directly involved cosmic rays, helps such water droplets to grow. Other nuclei of condensation can enter the atmosphere from space, in the form of particles of interstellar dust, or due to a kind of “breathing” of the plankton.

As clouds appear in the atmosphere of Mars?

But how to explain the appearance of clouds over Mars? What process triggers their formation in the middle layers (30-60 kilometers) of the red planet, if its surface has no water, no life? The issue is complicated by the fact that the air layer of Mars is so sparse that the water in it can exist almost exclusively in the form of microscopic ice crystals. So what they interact for the formation of clouds?

According to a new study, the answer to this question may lie not on the surface of the planet and in interplanetary space. Observations made by the spacecraft NASA MAVEN, which is currently circling the red planet, indicate that every day through the atmosphere of Mars is from 2 to 3 tons of “space debris” in the form of meteorites. The instruments of the probe has detected in the atmosphere of Mars is extremely unusual set of metal ions, which scientists subsequently linked with the combustion of meteorites and the formation of the so-called “meteoric smoke”.

Scientists decided to find out, not whether the particles that “meteor smoke” by themselves “germ” of condensation, similarly to how there are glowing noctilucent clouds in the mesosphere of the Earth. To test his hypothesis, the researchers used a complex computer simulation designed to simulate dynamic atmospheric processes on Mars. Adding to the simulation data on the number of meteor dust, which was recorded by MAVEN, scientists have obtained the desired result. The clouds are really formed.

The frame of a computer simulation showing clouds at medium altitudes of the atmosphere of the red planet

“Our climate model simply could not explain how they could have formed at a similar height in the atmosphere of Mars. When we put the meteor smoke, all the problems disappeared and the clouds appeared” — says Victoria Hartwick from the University of Colorado at boulder.

Interestingly, the appearance of clouds in computer models of Mars are extremely unusual influence on weather and climate of the planet, as well as on the behavior of the polar regions of its atmosphere. For example, their disappearance or appearance leads to a decrease or increase in air temperature by ten degrees Celsius or even higher values, but also dramatically changes the height of the air gap of Mars in the vicinity of its poles.

Researchers believe that the findings of their work will shed light on the evolution of the atmosphere of the red planet, and, in particular, to clarify the issue of how in the past the planet could support water in liquid form on its surface.

“More and more climate models show that Mars could be heated by high-altitude clouds in an era when the surface of flowing river, and their waters could be a life. It is likely that our discovery will be one part of the explanation of how Mars became warm and habitable,” says Brian Thun, colleague Hartwick at the University.

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