. Mars Exploration News .

NASA monitors massive dust storm on Mars
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 26, 2012

The US space agency says it is monitoring a massive dust storm on Mars that has produced atmospheric changes.

It's the first time since the 1970s that NASA is studying such a phenomenon both from orbit and with a weather station on the surface, NASA said on its website.

"This is now a regional dust storm," said Rich Zurek, chief Mars scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "It has covered a fairly extensive region with its dust haze, and it is in a part of the planet where some regional storms in the past have grown into global dust hazes."

Regional dust storms expanded and affected vast areas of the Red Planet in 2001 and 2007.

"One thing we want to learn is why do some Martian dust storms get to this size and stop growing, while others this size keep growing and go global," said Zurek.

Following decades of observations, experts know there is a seasonal pattern to the largest Martian dust storms, according to NASA. The most recent dust storm season began just a few weeks ago with the beginning of the spring in the southern hemisphere.

As of November 16, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected a warming of the atmosphere at about 16 miles (25 kilometers) above the storm. Since then, the region's atmosphere has increased by about 45 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius.)

The phenomenon is due to dust -- being lofted above the surface -- absorbing sunlight at that height, according to NASA.

Warmer temperatures have also been detected in a "hot spot" near northern polar latitudes due to changes in atmospheric circulation.

The storm, which came no closer than about 840 miles to NASA's Opportunity robot, on Mars since 2004, resulting in a "slight drop in atmospheric clarity over the rover," NASA said.

If the storm continues to spread out, Opportunity could be affected since it depends on solar energy for its power supply.

"More dust in the air or falling onto its solar panels would reduce the solar-powered rover's energy supply for daily operations," NASA said.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, which arrived on Mars on August 6 and is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator rather than solar cells, is likely to be less affected.

"The main effects of increased dust in the air at its site would be haze in images and increased air temperature," according to NASA.

Curiosity's weather station -- located halfway around the planet from Opportunity -- detected atmospheric changes tied to the storm, with sensors measuring a decrease in air pressure and a slight rise in overnight low temperature.

Curiosity is on a two-year, $2.5 billion mission to investigate whether it is possible to live on Mars and to learn whether conditions there might have been able to support life in the past.


Related Links
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Get Our Free Newsletters
Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear


Spacecraft Monitoring Martian Dust Storm
Pasadena CA (JPL) Nov 25, 2012
A Martian dust storm that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been tracking since last week has also produced atmospheric changes detectable by rovers on Mars. Using the orbiter's Mars Color Imager, Bruce Cantor of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, began observing the storm on Nov. 10, and subsequently reported it to the team operating NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. ... read more

China's Chang'e-3 to land on moon next year

Moon crater yields impact clues

Study: Moon basin formed by giant impact

NASA's LADEE Spacecraft Gets Final Science Instrument Installed

Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... the Space Station

Three ISS crew return to Earth in Russian capsule

Station Crew Off Duty After Undocking

Space station command changes

Dwarf planet Makemake lacks atmosphere

Keck Observations Bring Weather Of Uranus Into Sharp Focus

At Pluto, Moons and Debris May Be Hazardous to New Horizons Spacecraft During Flyby

Sharpest-ever Ground-based Images of Pluto and Charon: Proves a Powerful Tool for Exoplanet Discoveries

Cassini Finds a Video Gamers' Paradise at Saturn

Cassini Halloween Treat: Titan Glows in the Dark

Saturn's giant storm reveals the planet's churning atmosphere

Giant impact scenario may explain the unusual moons of Saturn

China successfully launches remote sensing satellite

TerraSAR-X image of the month - the Santorini volcano expands

What lies beneath? New survey technique offers detailed picture of our changing landscape

How many Russian Earth observation satellites will be in orbit by 2015?

UK Secures Billion Pound Package For Space Investment

Who's Killing the Space Program?

Fly me to the universe

At Helsinki's Slush, start-ups 'speed date' for financing

Magnesium oxide: From Earth to super-Earth

Rare image of Super-Jupiter sheds light on planet formation

Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'

NASA's Kepler Wraps Prime Mission, Begins Extension

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement