Global Storms on Mars Launch Dust Towers 50 Miles Into the Sky

Katie Ramirez
November 29, 2019

Heavens and his colleagues studied a pair of PEDEs, one from 2007 and the one from previous year, to learn more about these dust towers, by looking at data collected by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

"But during a global storm, dust towers are renewed continuously for weeks, ' he said".

One of the most dramatic of Martian phenomena is the tendency to roughly once a decade be suddenly subject to huge dust storms that completely engulf the planet, blotting out the Sun. Dust towers occur when dust clouds react to the warmth of the sun and rise vertically. Each can be as wide as the state of Nevada when they reach heights of 50 mi (80 km), and when they decay they form a layer of dust at around 35 mi (56 km) above the surface that is wider than the continental United States.

Observations made by NASA spacecraft have given further insight into how global dust storms on Mars can cover the entire planet in a haze with dust towers rising high into the air.

This two new research checked out atmospheric knowledge from 2018, when dust-storms enveloped the complete planet and compelled NASA's Alternative rover mission to come back to an sudden finish.

Mars is believed to have had rivers and lakes of liquid water that disappeared about 3.5 million years ago.

'Normally the dust would fall down in a day or so, ' Hampton College's Nicholas Heavens instructed NASA. The blue-white plumes are water vapor clouds.

Over a chronic time frame, planet-wide mud towers equivalent to these noticed in 2018 might have helped empty out all of the water reserves from the planet's floor.

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The rate of dust activity surprised Heavens and other scientists.

"Global dust storms are really unusual", said David Kass, Mars Climate Sounder scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Multiple towers were seen for as long as three and a half weeks.

Researchers posit that these towers might have launched water vapor from Mars's floor into the planet's higher ambiance, the place intense photo voltaic radiation might have triggered the vapor to separate from the mud particles it had bonded with. "We really don't have anything like this on the Earth, where the entire planet's weather changes for several months".

Click to Enlarge This graphic shows the ongoing contributions of NASA's rovers and orbiters during 2018 Martian dust storm.

Heavens described the mud towers as 'space elevators, ' which have been noticed to move a variety of various materials into the Martian ambiance. Its data, coupled with images from a camera aboard the orbiter called the Mars Context Imager (MARCI), enabled scientists to detect numerous swelling dust towers. This is why it's so hard for scientists to understand them. NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter is also studying the Martian atmosphere, with a specific focus on how Mars lost its water and atmosphere over time.

NASA's Odyssey orbiter has been at Mars for 18 years.

With all of these instruments watching Mars, scientists are building a more thorough understanding of Mars' atmosphere and climate.

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