There are many places on Earth where it snows, but did you know it snows on other worlds, too? Here are just a few of the places where you might find snow beyond Earth:
The north pole and south pole of Mars have ice caps that grow and shrink with the seasons. These ice caps are made mainly of water ice – the same kind of ice you’d find on Earth. However, the snow that falls there is made of carbon dioxide – the same ingredient used to make dry ice here on Earth. Carbon dioxide is in the Martian atmosphere and it freezes and falls to the surface of the planet as snow. In 2017, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took photos of the sand dunes around Mars’ north pole. The slopes of these dunes were covered with carbon dioxide snow and ice.
There are dozens of moons that orbit Jupiter and one of them, called Io, has snowflakes made out of sulfur. In 2001, NASA’s Galileo spacecraft detected these sulfur snowflakes just above Io’s south pole. The sulfur shoots into space from a volcano on Io’s surface. In space, the sulfur quickly freezes to form snowflakes that fall back down to the surface.
A Moon of Saturn: Enceladus
Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, has geysers that shoot water vapor out into space. There, it freezes and falls back to the surface as snow. Some of the ice also escapes Enceladus to become part of Saturn’s rings. The water vapor comes from a heated ocean, which lies beneath the moon’s icy surface. (Jupiter’s moon Europa is also an icy world with a liquid ocean below the frozen surface.) All of this ice and snow make Enceladus one of the brightest objects in our solar system.