by NASA of the discovery of water ice on Mars by its Phoenix Lander probe made big news everywhere. The discovery involved the observation of water ice sublimating into the air - that is, the water went from solid to vapor state without reaching the liquid stage. The Martian atmosphere has perfect conditions for sublimation - extremely thin, dry and cold. How cold? Well, you can check the Live Martian Weather Report
, with data from a station on board the Phoenix Lander. Today will see a high temperature of a toasty -26 degrees F.
What more do we know about Mars' atmosphere? It's hundreds of times thinner than Earth's atmosphere and is made of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and contains traces of oxygen, water, and methane. We also know, from observations that it can support dust storms, dust devils, clouds and gusty winds. With an amazing number of six current live probes exploring Mars (two rovers, a lander, and three orbiters), there are many thousands of images available. Only a few, however show atmospheric phenomena. Presented here are some of the best images of Martian atmosphere (and beyond) in action. (17 photos total)
High, wispy clouds cover a large portion of Mars, seen in this, the first true-colour image of Mars generated with the OSIRIS orange (red), green and blue color filters. The image was acquired by an instrument on the ESA's Rosetta probe on Feb. 24, 2007 from a distance of about 240,000 km. Image resolution is about 5 km/pixel. (Credits: ESA © 2007 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)