Water-Ice Clouds Activate Martian Atmosphere

Scientists have long wondered why the surface temperatures on Mars rise and fall twice a day instead of once each as on Earth. The answer, according to new research, may be found in water-ice clouds floating about 10 to 30 kilometers above the Martian equatorial surface.

The clouds resemble thin cirrus clouds on Earth and absorb infrared light coming from the planet’s surface. That absorption is enough to heat the middle atmosphere each day.

“We think of Mars as a cold and dry world …

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