Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/81

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59
ATMOSPHERE

Although over what we shall later see to be the great continental deserts the air must at midday be highly rarefied, and cause vacuums into which the surrounding air must rush, the actual difference of gradient, owing to the initial thinness of the air, must be very slight. With a normal barometer of four and a half inches, a very great relative fall is a very slight actual one. In consequence, storms would be such mild-mannered things that, for objectionable purposes, they might as well not be. In the first place, there can be but little rain, or hail, or snow, for the particles would be likely to be deposited before they gained the dignity of such separate existence. Dew or frost would be the common precipitation on Mars. The polar snow-cap or ice-cap, therefore, is doubtless formed, not by the falling of snow, but by successive depositions of dew. Secondly, there would be about the Martian storms no very palpable wind. Though the gale might blow at fairly respectable rates, so flimsy is the substance moved that it might buffet a man unmercifully without reproach.

Another interesting result of the rarity of the air would be its effect upon the boiling-point of water. Reynault's experiments have shown that, in air at a density 14/100 of our own, water would boil at about 127° Fahrenheit. This, then, would be the temperature at which