This image of Martian clouds illustrates the fact that they are found only in the equatorial region.
Click on image for full size
Image from: Hubble

Martian Clouds

Unlike the Earth, where clouds are found around the entire globe, on Mars, clouds seem only to be found near the equator, as shown in this Hubble telescope image. This may be because water of Mars may only exist at equatorial regions.

As early as 1796 scientists were reporting "yellow", and "white" or "bluish" clouds in the Martian atmosphere. With data from the Mariner 9 mission, scientists could finally prove that the clouds were made of water. Mars Global Surveyor is providing more proof of the existence of water clouds.

More study is needed to understand just how the clouds come and go in the Martian atmosphere. For example, even though clouds have been found, there is no proof it actually rains on Mars! Precipitation of water depends upon how cold it is. The temperatures in the atmosphere may be too cold for water to fall to the ground as droplets.

As a first step in answering some of those questions, Mars Pathfinder took measurements of many clouds in the Martian sky from the surface of Mars itself. Scientists are studying images of the Martian sky from the 80-day mission. The Mars '98 mission will carry a weather satellite, just like the instruments that are used to bring you the weather on the evening news. Then scientists expect to receive much better data about Martian weather.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist, mineral and fossil specimens, and educational games!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more

Precipitation

Precipitation (pre-sip-uh-tay-shun) is any form of water that falls to the Earth's surface. Different forms of precipitation include drizzle, rain, hail, snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Precipitation...more

Mars Atmospheric Temperature Profile, from Mars Pathfinder

The temperatures in the atmosphere of Mars are doggone cold! This is a graph which shows just what the temperatures are. The measurements were taken by Mars Pathfinder as it decended through the nighttime...more

An Overview of the Mars '98 mission

The Mars '98 mission was made of two spacecraft called the Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander. The Orbiter was going to orbit Mars and search for water. The Lander was supposed to land near...more

The Lamb

The small, round rock shown here was named The Lamb. Soils found around the Lamb by Mars Pathfinder's Rover were unique. They seem to be made of a special sort of iron which requires more water than is...more

Martian Water

Mars doesn't seem to have very much water. If Mars had lots of water life could survive there. There seems to be *some* water because clouds, fog, and icy polar caps are seen on Mars today. There are also...more

Lower Atmosphere

The atmosphere of Mars is much thinner than that of Earth, with a surface pressure averaging 1/100th that at the surface of the Earth. Surface temperatures range from -113oC at the winter pole to 0oC...more

Martian Global Dust Storms

This image shows a local dust storm near the edge of the south polar cap. Viewing of this image at high resolution is recommended. This fascinating image shows dust swirling over a large area. Martian...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA