Martian frosted dune with black jets of gas escaping! HiRISE ID: ESP-011917-1080. Image credit: HiRISE/ASU

Martian frosted dune with black jets of gas escaping! HiRISE ID: ESP-011917-1080. Image credit: HiRISE/ASU

Hello Earthlings and welcome back to another section of Universe Playpen!

Winter is certainly around the corner and thought I would share with you the fascinating facts about “winter” on other planets and moons! Here’s the Top 5 Facts about Planetary Winters:

1- “Snow” in the planetary sense refers to “clumps of material in-falling from the atmosphere”- so not necessarily water ice. On Venus, it “snows” metal. On Titan, it “snows” irradiated methane, called tholins!

2-Dunes on Mars freeze in the winter months. This means that these large piles of sand are almost frozen in time with a layer of frost! It also traps nitrogen and carbon, so when the frosting defrosts, the trapped gases burst in small jets!

3- On the moon Titan as the poles change from summer to winter, the lakes evaporate in the summer and move as clouds to the the opposite pole and fill the lakes with frozen methane and ethane!

4- A winter season on Mars lasts 7 months; at Jupiter it is 3 years; and at Saturn it is 7 years!

5- A winter season on Pluto lasts more than a century! BRRR!

 Illustration of how organic compounds in-fall on the surface and lakes of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Image credit: ESA

Illustration of how organic compounds in-fall on the surface and lakes of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Image credit: ESA

Thank you for reading and keep warm this winter season! Come back next week for a look at the Kaiser Dune field on Mars!