Published On: Fri, Aug 21st, 2015

Astronomers Study Textured Dust Storms on Mars

A new investigate of textured dirt storms from a Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics examines information over 8 years of MGS observations and finds that such storms comment for about half of all a dirt in a Martian atmosphere.

In a 1870’s astronomers initial remarkable a participation of yellow clouds on a aspect of Mars and suggested they were caused by windblown dust. Today, dirt storms on Mars are good famous and those that arrangement manifest structures are called “textured dirt storms.” Textured dirt storms actively lift dirt into a atmosphere, and can outcome from a operation of meteorological effects including clever winds. Besides obscuring views of a Martian surface, dirt in these storms affects windy heating, and accumulation of dirt on a aspect can change a aspect albedo (reflectivity). These dirt storms, notwithstanding being complicated for some-more than a century, sojourn rather mysterious. It is not understood, for example, how textured storms are distributed over a aspect of a planet, when their magnitude peaks, or how many dirt is indeed swept up.

An picture of a Martian textured dirt charge taken with a Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission. The colored contours prove a certainty turn of a identifications. Credit: NASA/MGS; Guzewich et al. 2015

CfA astronomer Huiqun Wang and his 3 collaborators used information from a Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) goal and a apartment of instruments to investigate textured dirt storms. MGS was launched in 1999 and has been watching Mars roughly invariably given then; successive missions like a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched in 2005) combined to a database. The scientists examined a finish record of MGS daily tellurian maps to investigate a climatology of dirt storms that vaunt non-smooth textures, and describe these observations to a aspect dirt placement and windy effects.

The astronomers found that textured dirt storms are seasonally clustered: they start mostly during a equinoxes (the “spring” and “fall” seasons of Mars) and not a solstices (the “summer” and “winter” seasons). They also start many frequently in a north-polar segment above mid-latitudes. They are means to quantify a relations significance of textured dirt storms to dirt in a atmosphere, and find that they can comment for about half, a rest entrance from internal “dust devils” or other small-scale disturbances. Not least, they news that a dirt in textured dirt storms is churned globally on a timescale of weeks. The new research, that analyzed 8 years of booster observations, uses a many finish set of information to date to obtain a many new bargain of Martian dirt storms.

Publication: Scott D. Guzewicha, et al., “Mars Orbiter Camera Climatology of Textured Dust Storms,” Icarus, Volume 258, 15 Sep 2015, Pages 1–13; doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2015.06.023

Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

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