Frost discovered on Mars volcanoes

11 June 2024 09:16

Swissmem SSIGGreater Geneva Bern

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Bern - Researchers from the University of Bern have, for the first time, detected water frost on the highest peaks of the Tharsis volcanoes on Mars. This discovery was made using high-resolution color images from the Mars camera CaSSIS. The camera system was developed and built at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern.

For the first time, an international team from the University of Bern led by Dr. Adomas Valantinas has detected frost, formed from water, on the Tharsis volcanoes on Mars. This frost formation came as something of a surprise, as these mountains are found at low latitudes near the equator of the Red Planet, where temperatures tend to be relatively high, further details of which can be found in a press release issued by the university. The kind of temperature differences between peaks and valleys that we experience on Earth are also not commonplace on Mars due to the thin atmosphere. The water frost was detected using high-resolution color images from the Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS), which is on board the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter probe of the European Space Agency (ESA). The camera system was developed at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern, while the results of the study have now been published in the journal “Nature Geoscience”.

“The amount of frost represents about 150,000 tons of water swapping between surface and atmosphere each day during the cold seasons, the equivalent of roughly 60 Olympic swimming pools”, as Adomas Valantinas, lead author of the study, comments in the press release. “Of course, we want to understand the physical processes involved in the climate of Mars. But, in addition, understanding the water cycle on Mars is also of major importance for establishing key resources for future human exploration”, Valantinas concludes.

At present, Adomas Valantinas is working as a visiting researcher at Brown University in Providence in the US State of Rhode Island, having secured a scholarship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). ce/eb

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