Martian Dust Storm

The planet Mars is becoming shrouded in dust. I mentioned the other day the rover Curiosity seemed to be in pretty good shape as far as dust coverage goes or at least did not have as much dust coverage as I thought it would.

The situation for Curiosity may change as a dust storm becomes prevalent both in storm density and duration. The rover Opportunity (indicated with the blue dot in the center of the image) seems to be obscured now and power levels could be impacted, we’ll have to wait and see.

Typically the southern summer warms the environment and the dust and sends the particles high into the mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere. As the particles rise in the atmosphere they in turn create more wind and so on, a feedback loop. Exactly how this works is not known – yet. It could be the dust particles absorb enough heat from the Sun to remain boyent or it could be the seasonal variation of methane plays a part; or it could be something completely different and unrelated. Time will tell.

The current storm was detected on 01 June 2018 and is still going on and could continue for weeks or months. That seems like a long time but on Mars it happens, maybe not often, but it a well observed phenomenon. The image shown was taken on 06 June 2018 courtesy of Malin Space Science Systems. The map was produced by the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, which Malin Space Science Systems produced and operates.

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