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back to article NASA reports first sighting of dry ice Martian snowfalls

Scientists using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found definitive proof that flurries of carbon-dioxide snow are falling on the Martian South Pole. "These are the first definitive detections of carbon-dioxide snow clouds," said Paul Hayne of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a statement. "We firmly establish the clouds …

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Cool man, real cool

Given a surface pressure of about 600 pascals that would make the pole temperature 148 K, -125 °C or -193 °F, give or take a brass monkey ball. I've done the better part of a workday at -20 °F with a wind chill to -50, slept at marginally warmer temps and it hurts just thinking about it but comparatively speaking that was down right balmy. I'll reluctantly let the younger folks go on any manned mission, as if I had the choice.

Flames for two reasons; first, to thaw out my mind and second, there's no brass monkey icon.

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Headmaster

Re: Cool man, real cool

Please remind me why people are fantasizing about transforming this planet again? At -125 °C?! It's already got carbon dioxide... what other green house gases we gonna pump in to make it livable?

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Re: Cool man, real cool

"what other green house gases we gonna pump in to make it livable?"

Well you could use methane. But it needs a thicker atmosphere for it to be any use to us and a thicker one would also retain more heat.

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Re: Cool man, real cool

Terraforming Mars isn't all that hard. Strap a set of great big engines to Ceres and crash the thing into the south pole. Ceres + polar deposits have enough volatiles that - combined - there should be a reasonable atmosphere. The impact - while it would leave an interesting crater - shouldn't shatter the planet, nor blow the flimsy extant atmosphere off. So yes, you'd have half the planet being molten for a few hundred years to deal with, but that's a relatively minor issue. (It should also help offset the cooling wrought by the dust kicked up, making the thicker atmosphere a net gain.)

This shouldn’t actually be all that big a deal to accomplish. You need a set of holy-shit nuclear power plants on Ceres, an automated mining facility that extracts non-volatile (rock/mineral) mass from the planet for use as propellant (don’t waste your volatiles!) and a set of big-ass ion engines.

You vaporise the mass, ionise it and huck it out the engine at a significant fraction of c. This is a simple impulse engine/hall thruster/VASMIR design. It doesn’t provide a huge amount of thrust – well, okay, with nukes powering the thing, the thrust will be insane, but so is the dwarf planet we’re trying to move – but it will be a constant thrust. That is how we get new horizons out to Pluto in short time frames, or move Dawn out to go check on the dwarf planet under discussion.

You’ll need some RCS thruster quads (probably chemical) for steering, but here you can probably afford to burn some volatiles in order to provide the moderate amount of reaction mass you need.

So, a trillion dollars or so, about 250 years to move the dwarf and another 250 before Mars is tectonically stable enough to think about colonising and *bam*, whole other planet to work with.

Converting the atmosphere into the right oxy/nitro mix, that’s a whole other issue. Still, the ability to walk around outside with no pressure suit, nor cold-weather gear would be a huge thing. Wearing a small oxygen mask is a minor inconvienience.

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Stop

Re: Cool man, real cool

Mars + Ceres != enough gravity to stop the atmosphere boiling away

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Re: Cool man, real cool

@tom38: correct! In fact, even Earth is too small to prevent losing its atmosphere to space. The issue is timeframes. Mars on its own, were we to give it an earth-normal atmosphere, would be able to hold onto it for over 100,000 years before humans started to need pressure suits again. Mars + Ceres is apparently closer to 1,000,000 years. Long enough - I'd hope - for us to find an alternate solution.

Like life.

It is life after all that renews our atmosphere. There is every reason to believe that it would be able to do the same on Mars. Remember, like Earth, Mars is mostly oxygen. Like Earth, it's all trapped up in the rocks.

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Linux

Mars ski season opens!

I suspect the cost of a lift ticket may be even higher than at Thredbo or Queenstown, though.

Penguins don't need lift passes.

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Coat

Re: Mars ski season opens!

Visiting Mars would be awesome. Skiing is awesome. Skiing on Mars would be worth almost any price!

Having recently returned from a two-week ski holiday in Thredbo I can attest to the high price of the lift passes there. Fortunately, the snow was unusually good (for Australian snow) and I had a great time.

Coat icon because I'll need all the insulation I can get while skiing on Mars.

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WTF?

Re: Mars ski season opens!

"Skiing on Mars would be worth almost any price!"

Skiiing on mars would be a waste of time.

1) Dry ice isn't slippery and at that temp neither is water ice.

2) Gravity is only about 1/3rd earths so even assuming you could slide you'd take ages to reach any speed.

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Re: Mars ski season opens!

In other words, It would be perfect for this Norwegian who can't ski if his life depended on it

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Coat

[BOO-HISS]

"Let's go write our names in the snow"

Urine trouble for suggesting that.

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Boffin

Re: [BOO-HISS]

Are Martian snow angles the same as Earth snow angles>?

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Joke

Re: [BOO-HISS]

Are Martian snow angles the same as Earth snow angles>?

Don't be obtuse.

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Facepalm

Re: [BOO-HISS]

Depends on the wind strength, surely?

More to the point: Are Martian snow *angels* the same as Earth snow *angels*? ;-)

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So all this CO2 is it a pollution issue!

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Pint

Shhhh . . .

. . . . You'll wake Lewis Page up and we'll get a rant about it all being natural.

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Uh-oh

why does the martian south pole look exactly like a MAP OF THE UK ?

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Re: Uh-oh

Probably for the same reason that there's a small island called France on Damogran.

The universe is so full of stuff that there's bound to be stuff that looks like other stuff.

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Angel

Re: Uh-oh

Or it was one of the test builds from the guys on Magrathea

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Re: Uh-oh

A map drawn by a medieval monk with a brainful of ergot?

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Joke

Re: Uh-oh

'It was Earth all along!'

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Re: Uh-oh

"why does the martian south pole look exactly like a MAP OF THE UK ?"

And why has Cornwall broken off and started floating away?

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Re: Uh-oh

If NASA report mice on Mars I'm definitely going to buy a lot of popcorn.

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Re: Uh-oh

I wont buy popcorn, I would start being really nice to mice and start making friends with dolphins.

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Happy

Re: Uh-oh

I think, if you asked the Cornish, they'd find that a positive outcome!

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Has Curiosity managed to catch one on its tongue yet?

And is CO2 snow anything like regular snow?

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Linux

Re: is CO2 snow anything like regular snow?

The Martian Esquimax have a word for it...

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So when is it meeting up with Spirit for a robot snowball smackdown?

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