Spring on Mars: warmer weather and lots of gas
Spring on Earth is marked by daffodils and budding leaves. However spring on Mars sees plumes of carbon dioxide vaporising from solid blocks of dry ice as they warm up in the sunlight towards the end of the Martian winter.
The unearthly nature of a Martian spring has been captured by Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite as it circles the Red Planet taking images of dirty plumes of gas carrying dust from the ground up through the openings of the solid carbon dioxide layer covering the Martian poles.
The seasonal polar caps on Mars form each winter because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changes directly to frost, which builds up into a thick layer of dry ice as much as a metre thick.
As winter ends and spring arrives, the dry ice turns directly from solid into vapour which punches its way to the surface.
"Spring on Mars is quite different from spring on Earth because Mars has not just permanent ice caps, but also seasonal polar caps of carbon dioxide, familiar to us on Earth as dry ice," said Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"What happens on Mars, we think, is that as the seasonal ice cap thins from the bottom, gas underneath the cap builds up pressure. And where gas under the ice finds a weak spot or a crack, it will flow out of the opening, often carrying a little dust from the surface below," said Dr Hansen-Koharcheck.
Images from the High Resolution Imaging Experiment on board the satellite show how the dust patterns form into starburst patterns as they blow through the dry ice.
As the plumes of carbon dioxide emerge they form radial troughs called "spiders", so-called because of the way they look.
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Stephen Hawking's wife Jane Wilde on their marriage breakdown: 'The family were left behind'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Putin critic may have been murdered by Islamic extremists, says president-led committee
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...