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In the Gale Crater on Mars, organic matter has been detected, but in much lower concentrations than expected. Here, the authors conduct clay mineral synthesis experiments which suggest that clay minerals may rapidly form under oxidized conditions and thus explain the low organic concentrations in Gale Crater.
The measurement of magnesium isotope ratios at improved accuracy suggests that planetary compositions result from fractionation between liquid and vapour, followed by vapour escape during accretionary growth.
Mars hosts the solar system’s largest volcanoes, but their formation rates remain poorly constrained. Here, the authors have measured the crystallization and ejection ages of meteorites from a Martian volcano and find that its growth rate was much slower than analogous volcanoes on Earth.
Venus is covered by thick clouds that move with the prevailing winds. Images from JAXA’s Akatsuki orbiter taken in July 2016 reveal more variability deep in the cloud layer than expected, including a feature consistent with an equatorial jet.
The Martian atmosphere hosts water-ice clouds, but it is thought that any snow precipitation settles slowly, rather than in storms. Martian meteorology simulations suggest that localized convective snowstorms can occur on Mars during the night.
The release of methane trapped in Martian subsurface reservoirs following planetary obliquity shifts may have contributed to episodic climate warming between 3.6 and 3 billion years ago, explaining evidence for ancient ice-covered lakes.
A fast equatorial jet in the Venusian cloud layer has been revealed by the Akatsuki orbiter by tracking cloud movement in near-infrared images. The findings suggest that the Venusian atmosphere is more variable than previously thought.