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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Permafrost: Earth vs. Mars

Sure it's chilly around here- as we once again had a night in the 40s- roughly 10 degrees below normal. We could be close to a record low- set 11 years ago. It was 41F at BWI in 1997. We will turn the corner today, and warm up back into the 80s for the weekend.
But if you want to talk real chill- Here is an interesting comparison I saw on Envirocast.

This pair of images shows the similarities between the surface of Mars where Phoenix landed (top) and permafrost on northeastern Spitsbergen, Svalbard (bottom) (Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of mainland Europe, about midway between Norway and the North Pole.). The polygon patterns form in permafrost when the upper parts of the ground thaw and refreeze from season to season. The ground contracts in the winter cold, creating small spaces that fill with melt water in the summer. When winter returns and the water freezes, it acts like a wedge, enlarging the cracks. (Although the Earth photo shows a large amount of surface water, the process could presumably occur beneath the surface with far less water.)

Soooo..... is there water on Mars. That is the purpose for the mission. It's all about the weather- wherever it is. That is why I have included the Mars weather report here and on the sidebar at the right. Day 1 shows a low of -112F and a High of -22F Brrrrrrrrrr

For more go to the Phoenix Mars Mission Page.

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