New Delhi: Our understanding about the weather on Mars is revised after a new study says that it is cloudy there as well and sometimes the Red planet experiences turbulent snowstorms that occur only at night.
Up to now, it was thought that snow falling from low-lying Martian clouds settled slowly and sparsely to the ground in a environment bereft of violent winds.
The new findings, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggest that ice-water particles swirling in a storm hit the ground within minutes, rather than descending gently for hours.
But future colonists from Earth needn't bother packing snow shoes, the lead researcher told AFP.
"It's not as if you could make a snowman or ski," said Aymeric Spiga, an expert on the dynamics of planetary atmospheres at Universite Pierre Curie in Paris.
"Standing on the surface of Mars you wouldn't see a thick blanket of snow -- more like a generous layer of frost."
The atmosphere of Mars is 100 times thinner than Earth's, though still thick enough to support weather, including clouds and wind.
But there's very little moisture. Indeed, the Red Planet is essentially a bone-cold desert with virtually no liquid water on its surface.
In the Martian arctic, however, water ice lurks just under a layer of dust.
This was detected up close by NASA's Phoenix lander, which scraped below the planet's surface with a shovel in 2008.
(With AFP inputs)