Snow Crystal Symmetry

December 25, 2012

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Scanning Electron Microscope Operator: Eric Erbe
Summary Authors: Bill Wergin; Jim Foster

December 2012 Viewer's Choice The above images show the extraordinary symmetry of snow crystals even at high magnification. At top is a single stellar snow crystal with sector-like extensions that’s been magnified approximately 100 times (100X) using a Scanning Electron Microscope. One arm has been broken off during descent through the lower atmosphere. The second image shows a higher magnification view of two lower arms of the same snow crystal, and the third image shows the bottom-most arm now magnified over 900X. Note that the parallel groove and pit structures still exhibit a high degree of symmetry even at nearly 2,000X (bottom image). Images taken at the Scanning Electron Microscopy Lab of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland.

 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the staff of the Earth Science Picture of the Day
Martin Richard, Erin Carver, Stu Witmer, Jim Foster