Clearing the Dusty Air about Mars
The atmosphere of Mars as seen from the MOM Color Camera. Courtesy ISRO.
Mars is in the news these days due to a major dust storm. These things happen on the Red Planet, which tells us it’s a living world in more ways than we used to think. The storm presents a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the atmospheric dynamics of the place. NASA scientists (as well as those from the European Space Agency) are following the storm with much interest, and NASA gave a press conference to talk about it. There should be some interesting news in the future, once they get the data sorted out from the various mission at the planet.
Dust storms can flare up in Mars during any season. Winds blow a lot on the planet, and there are small, localized storms and disturbances all the time. However, sometimes the smaller ones can blow up to become regional storms in a very short time. Less frequently, they expand to cover the planet. The most massive ones happen once every three or four Mars years and rage around for weeks to months.
Future inhabitants of the Red Planet will ...