If you want to understand the atmosphere of a planet, it helps to think big. That’s just what climate scientist Dan Cziczo and his colleagues did recently when they created conditions in the world’s largest cloud chamber mimicking those in the thin veil of gases that surrounds Mars.

Experiments by the researchers within the three-story shell of a former nuclear reactor in Karlsruhe, Germany have confirmed earlier runs in tabletop setups that have shown how the most common clouds on Mars form. Those ordinary occupiers of the Martian atmosphere resemble cirrus clouds on Earth.

By using a larger cloud chamber, researchers can add greater authenticity to their faux Mars atmospheres, enabling them to recreate large-scale pressure differences found where Martian clouds form.


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