Dust Storms Spotted On Mars By ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter

The Mars Express orbiter spotted several dust storms which are forming and near the north pole of Mars. In most cases, local and regional sand storms which take place on the Red Planet will last for a few days or weeks. They tend to appear quite often, but the most powerful ones can surround the entire planet in a thick layer of dust. In 2018 a global storm blocked sunrays from several months and forced the Opportunity rover into hibernation.

Spring is the current season in the northern hemisphere of the planet and a large number of water-ice clouds and dust –lifting events were seen near the edge of decreasing ice cap. In recent months several oddly-shaped dust storms were observed at the north polar ice cap.

Images recorded with the help of the High-Resolution Stereo Camera mounted on the Mars Express observer revealed three storms which started to form on May 22, May 26 and June 6. In the case of the last storm, the cameras tracked its evolution until June 10 when it was moving near the volcanoes.

ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter spotted several dust storms on Mars

The photos show small groups of light-colored clouds which can be seen close to the polar cap and near the Elysium volcanoes. Several minor storms were observed from May 22 to June 10, but they formed and dissipated at an accelerated rate. The High-Resolution Stereo Camera and Visual Monitoring camera saw the recent dust storms.

The researchers observed that in the case of dust storms which reach the Martian volcanoes the orographic clouds, which are water-ice clouds generated by the influence of the volcano’s leeward slope, started to evaporate at an accelerated rate as a large amount of dust heated the air mass.

The Martian dust storms remain a fascinating topic among the scientific community, and many researchers want to learn more about them and the specific weather patterns which are encountered on the planet.

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Emmy Skylar

About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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