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Thread: Cornice Avalanches on Mars

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    There does seem to be white parts that could be cornices near the tops of the cliffs in a number of the pictures.
    Sorry but "I see bunnies in the clouds" logic is not valid science. Your opinion of what "white spots" in images are is not a citation to the scientific literature announcing the discovery of snow or frost on the top of the hills.
    And debunking your own idea is not wise, vincecate. The RSL lengthen during summer. This needs avalanches from snow/frost cornices according to your idea. And here you are saying that "most cornices are gone" by summer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    "Here
    we report on experimental evidence that clouds
    and precipitation play a role in the exchange of
    water between the atmosphere and ground on
    Mars"
    Here we have you seeming to not understand the paper, vincecate. So a formal question:
    IF01: Please cite the text form the paper the explicitly states that snow or ice crystals reached the ground.
    If there is no such text then the paper does not support your idea. Data that stops > 500 meters from the ground explicitly does not support your idea.
    Last edited by Reality Check; 2016-Feb-16 at 11:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    I now think "water ice crystals formed in the atmosphere" are the source,
    IF02: Please cite the scientific literature that "water ice crystals formed in the atmosphere" are deposited on the ground to form cornices.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    Keep what Feynman said in mind whenever doing science:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw
    Keep in mind the actual content of that video - how we would look for new laws of physics. As he puts it: Guess then Compute then Compare. If it disagrees then the guess is wrong. Feynman calls this the "simple key to science". The same applies to looking for an explanation for observations: Guess a cause then Compute the consequences then Compare to observations.
    You have a guess that RSL are generated from avalanches from frost cornices at the tops of Marian hills.
    You can thus compute that the tops of Marian hills will be covered in tis frost.
    You can compare this to the detection of your frost during the extensive search for surface water in any form over the past few decades.
    Whoops - no frost found so another guess is needed.

    Another issue with your idea is that cornices form at the top of steep hillsides or cliffs. You need to survey the RSL locations and see what range of angles the hill tops are. RSL on a "shallow" slope is evidence against your idea. But you also need to learn about the physics of cornice formation to see just what is needed.
    Last edited by Reality Check; 2016-Feb-16 at 11:49 PM.

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    H20Triple points on Mars correlate with slope streaks

    Slope streaks also tend to start at outcrops. They are located in a much dustier area. However this Schorghofer et al paper found a correlation with water triple point. Many slope streaks are thoughr to be dry dust avalanches. But perhaps they could be triggered by falling ice at triple point at an outcrop only to sublime after exposure to direct atmosphere. The shock of the fall starts the dust slide which could be a dry event. I have not seen any reports that the same triple point is present as RSL sites.

    Avalanches are short term events, not long term as seen by the slow growth of RSL. The slow growth is why brine seeps were suggested first.

    Insolation effects take place over a season depending on how much higher the sun gets each day.

    Slope streaks on Mars: Correlations with surface properties and the potential role of water

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~spk/Pa...WaterGRL02.pdf

    You might consider testing your hypothesis in this context of avalanches.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
    IF02: Please cite the scientific literature that "water ice crystals formed in the atmosphere" are deposited on the ground to form cornices.
    This is a new theory. It is not one I found in the scientific literature. The question is if my new theory fits with the known evidence.

    The author says, "Here we report on experimental evidence that clouds and precipitation play a role in the exchange of water between the atmosphere and ground on
    Mars." Clearly they and I think that the most reasonable theory is that if the snow is getting within 500 meters of the ground some is also getting on the ground.

    From Feynman, in science you are going with the most reasonable theory that fits the evidence. You are not "proving" things. You don't get to "disprove" my theory by demanding I produce a proof. You might contradict my theory by showing some evidence that contradicts my theory. You have not done this so please ease up a bit.

    For sure there is frost on Mars. The most reasonable theory (from that paper) is there is also H2O snow on Mars. In any case, that paper is consistent with my theory.

    The dominant alternative to my theory is "flowing saltwater on Mars". These RSL paths are up to 5 meters wide, on steep slopes, and scooped. To get the edges wet using flowing water you would need a huge amount of flowing water. If you calculate the speed salt can absorb water from the very thin air on Mars it is more than a billion times slower than needed for such a huge flow of water. The alternative to my theory seems completely absurd, or at least the calculated predictions don't fit. In mine the snow is collected into a cornice and then all at once (when warmed to the point that the snow loses structural integrity needed to stay on the cliff) it slides down. The total amount of H20 needed for my theory is far more reasonable. The method for building up and then suddenly releasing is reasonable.

    Perhaps my theory is wrong, and there is something else going on. But I would bet for "Cornice Avalanches on Mars" against "Flowing Saltwater on Mars" (and if neither of these theories is right then no payoff). In such a bet I would not specify if the Cornices were from "frost" or "snow" or something else.
    Last edited by vincecate; 2016-Feb-17 at 01:59 PM.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
    Keep in mind the actual content of that video - how we would look for new laws of physics. As he puts it: Guess then Compute then Compare. If it disagrees then the guess is wrong. Feynman calls this the "simple key to science". The same applies to looking for an explanation for observations: Guess a cause then Compute the consequences then Compare to observations.
    You have a guess that RSL are generated from avalanches from frost cornices at the tops of Marian hills.
    You can thus compute that the tops of Marian hills will be covered in tis frost.
    You can compare this to the detection of your frost during the extensive search for surface water in any form over the past few decades.
    Whoops - no frost found so another guess is needed.

    Another issue with your idea is that cornices form at the top of steep hillsides or cliffs. You need to survey the RSL locations and see what range of angles the hill tops are. RSL on a "shallow" slope is evidence against your idea. But you also need to learn about the physics of cornice formation to see just what is needed.
    The RSL locations have been surveyed and they are all steep. If it was water they would not need to be steep. It fits better with my avalanche theory.

    There do seem to be white cornices in many of the pictures. Somehow everyone ignores these. The snow or frost that was not blown into a cornice would be expected to sublimate by the time the HiRise camera was over the RSL in the afternoon. So not seeing snow/frost does not "prove" anything.

    From your statement about the physics of cornices I have to wonder if you have yet to watch our 1 minute video in my initial post at the top:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yKiqME4QLY
    Last edited by vincecate; 2016-Feb-17 at 03:23 PM.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by borman View Post
    Avalanches are short term events, not long term as seen by the slow growth of RSL. The slow growth is why brine seeps were suggested first.
    My theory is that cornices are repeatedly forming and falling during the season. The idea is that the longer tracks are formed when there is more snow going into making cornices and the distance they slide before being used up is longer. I think the cornices are getting bigger during the night and some/most falling during the day. Again, this happens in the summer when temperatures are below freezing at night and above during the day.

    From the GIFs the paths suddenly get dark. It is consistent with a number of avalanches.

    I believe the reason the paths stay dark for a long time is that H20 is chemically combining with salts in the soil.
    Last edited by vincecate; 2016-Feb-17 at 03:28 PM.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by borman View Post
    Slope streaks on Mars: Correlations with surface properties and the potential role of water

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~spk/Pa...WaterGRL02.pdf

    You might consider testing your hypothesis in this context of avalanches.
    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    First, they do get longer going into the season. This would fit with frost cornices getting bigger as the season went on and so sliding further before being all used up. It would not fit with your "path with concentration of salt" idea.

    Second, the paths do change some. It is not always exactly the same. This also contradicts your theory. Given that they are carved in rock at the top they are going to be mostly the same. Similar thing happens on cliffs with snow going over them on Earth.

    Something like Iron Sulfate has different formulas for different amounts of water. You can actually buy it with different amounts of water. I have played with it a bit and it does change color when hydrated and take a long time to "dry out". Our first experiment was "rained out" after a few days. Will be doing more. If the passing avalanche added some H20 to the ground in its path this would all make sense.

    Your premise is that avalanches cause the slope darkening, but from year to year there is no observational evidence of any mass movement. The only thing that changes is albedo (darkness) of the surface. Since no mass moves, they cannot be avalanches.
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  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    The idea is that the longer tracks are formed when there is more snow going into making cornices and the distance they slide before being used up is longer.
    Some of the RSL form in Valles Marineris, one of the warmest and driest places on Mars. There is no evidence that it ever snows there. Snow may be a factor in the southernmost locations, but it cannot be the case near the equator.

    My colleagues are working to find a common cause for the RSL in different locations, but they admit the locations are so diverse that multiple causes may be the case.
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    Your premise is that avalanches cause the slope darkening, but from year to year there is no observational evidence of any mass movement. The only thing that changes is albedo (darkness) of the surface. Since no mass moves, they cannot be avalanches.
    If you watch this video they talk about boulders rolling down the cliff at an RSL site. The theory they give is "mars quakes" but it would fit better with avalanches. Mars quakes have been going on for a very long time, if there was no erosion due to something else you would not expect rocks to shake lose.

    If you look at how the RSL paths are carved in the rock and the huge debris fields below the cliffs, to me the most reasonable hypothesis is that mass is moving (even before the pictures showing rocks moving).

    It is possible that most of the time the snow just darkens the dirt and evaporates without moving too much other mass. It would still count as an avalanche.

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/146874107...#sp=show-clips
    Last edited by vincecate; 2016-Feb-17 at 07:59 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    Some of the RSL form in Valles Marineris, one of the warmest and driest places on Mars. There is no evidence that it ever snows there. Snow may be a factor in the southernmost locations, but it cannot be the case near the equator.

    My colleagues are working to find a common cause for the RSL in different locations, but they admit the locations are so diverse that multiple causes may be the case.
    There are these white parts near the crests of hills that look like cornices to me (all on the same side, like downwind). They come and go. This and the RSLs themselves may count as some evidence of snow. Also, there is a paper that seems to say in the summer the snow at least gets near the ground and probably does hit. This would fit with the time of the RSLs. The HiRise camera can not take pictures of a light snow at night, so if the first sun got rid of any light coating (maybe leaving some cornices) it would look just like it does in the pictures. So not having pictures of the snow does not prove it is not there.

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/146874107...#sp=show-clips
    [link redacted due to piracy/copyright concerns]

    Please ask your colleges to look at my theory.

    http://corniceavalanchesonmars.blogspot.com/
    Last edited by PetersCreek; 2016-Feb-17 at 11:13 PM. Reason: redaction

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    If you watch this video they talk about boulders rolling down the cliff at an RSL site. The theory they give is "mars quakes" but it would fit better with avalanches. Mars quakes have been going on for a very long time, if there was no erosion due to something else you would not expect rocks to shake lose.

    If you look at how the RSL paths are carved in the rock and the huge debris fields below the cliffs, to me the most reasonable hypothesis is that mass is moving (even before the pictures showing rocks moving).

    It is possible that most of the time the snow just darkens the dirt and evaporates without moving too much other mass. It would still count as an avalanche.

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/146874107...#sp=show-clips

    Unfortunately, the video they show of RSL is completely distinct from the rolling boulders. I have no idea why they showed those videos (which are from thousands of miles away) except that they may have wanted to show surface changes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    There are these white parts near the crests of hills that look like cornices to me (all on the same side, like downwind). They come and go. This and the RSLs themselves may count as some evidence of snow. Also, there is a paper that seems to say in the summer the snow at least gets near the ground and probably does hit. This would fit with the time of the RSLs. The HiRise camera can not take pictures of a light snow at night, so if the first sun got rid of any light coating (maybe leaving some cornices) it would look just like it does in the pictures. So not having pictures of the snow does not prove it is not there.

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/146874107...#sp=show-clips
    [link redacted due to piracy/copyright concerns]
    That video link is the same as in your previous post.

    The paper that you cite does demonstrate that it snows on Mars. Unfortunately, this is several thousand miles away from the majority of RSL found in Valles Marineris. See the attachement


    Attachment 21316



    To demonstrate avalanches, you'll need to show that material is moved. So far zero observations of RSL have shown any movement. People only see changes in surface brightness.
    Last edited by slang; 2016-Feb-17 at 09:19 PM. Reason: quoted link removed
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  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    See the attachement


    Attachment 21316
    This attachment link does not work for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post

    To demonstrate avalanches, you'll need to show that material is moved. So far zero observations of RSL have shown any movement. People only see changes in surface brightness.
    If there was a crater formed since Mars lost its water, and there were RSL paths carved in the edges, that would prove that the erosion of the paths was a "current" thing? It certainly seems the most reasonable guess to assume that the erosion of the paths and the darkening of the paths are related.

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    No, the darkening we can see happening on present day Mars. The crater may be millions of years old or much more. Which crater are you talking about?

    Here's the attachment again. Looks like a moderator took it out.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Google_Mars_distance.png 
Views:	91 
Size:	1.32 MB 
ID:	21317
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    Using your very own point: HiRISE (the most powerful camera at Mars) can see boulders moving, but it has never seen material movement at the RSL, even at hundreds of sites over several years. If avalanches were a part of RSL, there would be movement.

    Here's something to think about: scientists really want RSL to be associated with mass wasting. That would solve many questions. Right now they're stumped.

    It's great to offer ideas, and the more people who contribute to these discussions the better. Thanks for thinking about it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    Here's the attachment again. Looks like a moderator took it out.
    There may have been an unintentional side-effect of editing out a URL in your quoted text, there was no intention to remove any of your text or images.
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  21. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    No, the darkening we can see happening on present day Mars. The crater may be millions of years old or much more.
    If some crater were made when Mars atmosphere is like it is now, then the paths carved in the rock would have to have been made using processes that can still be going on today. So my question is how long has Mars atmosphere been basically like it is now?

    I am suggesting that the darkening is part of the erosion process (avalanches leaving moisture in the soil) that has been going on for millions of years. The reason you only see a few boulders moved is that it has been going on for a long time and so it is a very slow process.

    Update:
    "And, according to new data collected by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity and studies of ancient Martian meteorites, the planet's atmosphere hasn't changed very much in about 4 billion years." http://www.space.com/22013-mars-atmo...eteorites.html

    So it would seem basically all of the erosion on the crater walls happened with the thin atmosphere Mars has now. If it is not cornice avalanches slowly carving those paths, what is it?
    Last edited by vincecate; 2016-Feb-17 at 11:13 PM.

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    Can you point out the paths you're talking about?
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  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    This is a new theory. It is not one I found in the scientific literature. The question is if my new theory fits with the known evidence.
    The question is whether there is existing evidence to support your new theory.
    IF02: Please cite the scientific literature that "water ice crystals formed in the atmosphere" are deposited on the ground to form cornices.
    No evidence that there is frost on the ground = no cornices = your idea is wrong.

    Continuously ignoring the science in a paper is not an answer to this question or the previous question:
    IF01: Please cite the text from the paper the explicitly states that snow or ice crystals reached the ground.

    Fantasizing that you can read the authors minds is not good either !

    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    For sure there is frost on Mars.
    Not for sure unless you cite the observation of frost on Mars, i.e. ice on the ground.

    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    The dominant alternative to my theory is "flowing saltwater on Mars"....
    This thread is for you to provide evidence supporting your ATM idea, vincecate. The mainstream idea already has evidence supporting it. Any "evidence" you think you have against the mainstream is not support for your idea (look up the logical fallacy of false dichotomy).

  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    The RSL locations have been surveyed and they are all steep.
    Citations please.

    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    There do seem to be white cornices in many of the pictures. ...
    Your imagination about what you see in images is not scientific evidence for anything, vincecate!!
    IF03: Please cite the scientific literature on the "white cornices in many of the pictures" showing that they are cornices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    The paper that you cite does demonstrate that it snows on Mars
    There seems to be no citation to a paper in vincecate's post (it may be the "[link redacted due to piracy/copyright concerns]").
    I hope that he did not confuse the observation of CO2 snow on Mars with the H2O snow his idea requires.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    So it would seem basically all of the erosion on the crater walls happened with the thin atmosphere Mars has now. If it is not cornice avalanches slowly carving those paths, what is it
    The obvious questions are: What crater? What paths? What evidence do you have that the paths were "slowly carved"?
    It is possible that RSL just flow down gullies created by other erosion processes on Mars, e.g. wind, old surface water, maybe CO2 flows at the poles. That does not rule out avalanches from so far imaginary cornices since they would do the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
    The obvious questions are: What crater? What paths? What evidence do you have that the paths were "slowly carved"?
    It is possible that RSL just flow down gullies created by other erosion processes on Mars, e.g. wind, old surface water, maybe CO2 flows at the poles. That does not rule out avalanches from so far imaginary cornices since they would do the same.
    If Mars has not had an atmosphere for 4 billion years and there are craters with RSLs that are just millions of years old then how could "old surface water" do it? The RSLs are too warm for CO2 flows. This is why liquid salt water (or nearly melting cornices in my case) is the theory. It is around the freezing temperature of water, far too warm for dry-ice. If the craters have been there just millions of years and the atmosphere has not changed in 4 billion years, "old surface water" just does not work. There is something still going on in these RSL paths today, why is it not the most reasonable assumption that it is the same thing that has been going on for millions of years? If it is a process going on for millions of years, it would be "slowly carved". We are looking for the most reasonable theory. Why is this not the most reasonable?

    There is the old saying of, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?". To this I will add, "if the snow on Mars falls during the dark of night when HiRise can not image it, and is gone by morning, does it really exist?"

    I note that crosscountry said, "The paper that you cite does demonstrate that it snows on Mars.". So RealityCheck, I am not totally alone in my reading of that paper. Granted he points out it is in a different location. But my theory of Snow Cornices on Mars is a bit more plausible if there is snow at least someplaces on Mars. And for sure falling snow can be blown into cornices. It happens on Earth and it will work the same way. The top of the hill blocks the wind so the snow settles down. The frost idea has the additional question of could the wind on Mars lift the frost into the air. Snow is already in the air.

    I have been searching for some time to try to find the ages of some of the RSL sites and have not yet found anything. Learned something interesting about the problems with the "crater counting method" of determining ages. Large impacts can cause huge numbers of secondary small impacts that make the assumptions of this dating method invalid. Hum.
    Last edited by vincecate; 2016-Feb-18 at 02:13 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
    There seems to be no citation to a paper in vincecate's post (it may be the "[link redacted due to piracy/copyright concerns]").
    I hope that he did not confuse the observation of CO2 snow on Mars with the H2O snow his idea requires.
    The title of the paper is, "Mars Water-Ice Clouds and Precipitation". So no, I was not confused.

    Here is a link to the paywall version since it seems links to free versions are redacted:
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/325/5936/68

    Here is a good quote: "In the early morning hours on sol 109, the
    LIDAR observed clouds and precipitation that
    extended all the way to the ground (Fig. 2B)."
    Last edited by vincecate; 2016-Feb-18 at 02:44 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    If Mars has not had an atmosphere for 4 billion years ...
    No one knows how old the RSL are. They exist on features that have existed for thousands or million or billions of years (craters, apparently dunes, hills, canyons).

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    Quote Originally Posted by vincecate View Post
    The title of the paper is, "Mars Water-Ice Clouds and Precipitation". So no, I was not confused.
    Which is nothing to do with snow on the surface of Mars (all of the data stops > 500 meters from the surface) to form your cornices. Otherwise you would be able to answer:
    IF01: Please cite the text from the paper the explicitly states that snow or ice crystals reached the ground.
    With the text (which I actually have).
    The wider question is:
    IF02: Please cite the scientific literature that "water ice crystals formed in the atmosphere" are deposited on the ground (especially in amounts large enough to form cornices).

    P.S. IF03: Please cite the scientific literature on the "white cornices in many of the pictures" showing that they are cornices.

    Here is a fuller quote from the paper:
    In the early morning hours on sol 109, the LIDAR observed clouds and precipitation that extended all the way to the ground (Fig. 2B).
    ...
    It is reasonable to assume that the ice crystals would have continued to descend through the saturated air to reach the surface.
    This is the paper explicitly stating that they did not observe ice crystals reaching the ground.
    This is a single observation. On sol 99 (Fig 2A), the observed clouds and precipitation stopped kilometers above the surface.

    FYI: I also assume that ice crystals can reach the ground from these low clouds. I also assume until you provide evidence otherwise that they do what ice crystals tend to do - melt!
    Last edited by Reality Check; 2016-Feb-18 at 03:43 AM.

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