Climatic Variation on Mars


Like Earth, Mars also experiences climatic variations. The variations in temperature are a result of the interaction between Mars’ atmosphere and polar ice caps. On Earth, seasonal variations in temperature cause the polar ice caps in one hemisphere to grow while they shrink in the other hemisphere. However, on Mars things are different. In addition to snow raining down on the polar ice caps during winter, the Martian polar ice caps also receive frozen carbon dioxide (CO2).

According to data gathered by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, the Martian polar ice caps consist of three parts. The first is the Residual Ice Cap, which consists of sheets of water ice that are several metres thick at Mars’ north pole and an 8mt-thick sheet of frozen CO2 at Mars’ south pole. Beneath that are the Polar Layered Deposits, which are 2 to 3kms thick and consist of water ice and dust. The third layer is the Seasonal Ice Cap, which is a layer of frozen CO2 that gets deposited on top of the permanent ice caps every winter.

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