In contrast, MASC can photograph and measure tens of thousands of snowflakes in a single night, Garrett said. Already, two MASC cameras in use at the Alta Ski Area are generating results that suggests wind and snow interact differently than weather models predict.
Garrett and Cale Fallgatter have formed a spin-off company to sell MASCs to interested parties. Fallgatter Technologies, officially spun-off six months ago, has already sold a camera to the U.S. Army, which is using it to improve avalanche prediction.
Besides being useful, the camera is also just plain fun to use. "It's very exciting to be able to look at the snowflakes every day as they're falling. I saw some fog up in the mountains, and wondered what kind of snowflakes this fog would produce," Garrett said.
Then he logged on to Alta's live feed and found out. While that day the snow was producing very regular, six-sided snowflakes, "the range is tremendous," he said. "When people say no two snowflakes are alike, that is very true. They are dissimilar in ways that I did not imagine prior to starting this project. The range of possibilities is immense."