Fake snow snaffled from the Snozone could indirectly help city scientists discover whether there is life on Mars.
Academics from the Open University don their wellies and, with the blessing of Snozone bosses, shovel up a coolbox full of snow every few days.
Back at their physical sciences lab, the experts simulate the weather conditions of Mars with an intense sun lamp,snow and handfuls of ‘space dust’.
Said senior lecturer Axel Hagermann: “It is dust we have obtained from Nasa, so it’s as similar as we can find to the dust that is on Mars.”
By observing how deep solar irradiation pentrates the mixture, Dr Hagermann and his fellow scientists hope to deduce the temperatures and conditions below the surface of Mars.
“We can see if gas is erupting underneath the layers and even if in certain zones there may be liquid water, “he said.
“It might be a little silly to say this would prove there is life on Mars. But it could help prove that life could be sustainable on Mars.”
Dr Hagermann admitted one of the most difficult parts of the project was finding the snow in the first place.
“It’s been an unusual winter in that we have not had any snow,” he said.
“We thought about making it with a spray gun and liquid nitrogen but that is costly and time consuming.
“Then we approached the Snozone and they were only too pleased to help.
“We go there with our cool box and shovel some up whenever we need it. It’s been a real help and we’d like to thank the Snozone very much.”