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Major Dust Storm to Hit Mars in the Next Few Weeks

Oct 11, 2016 06:03 AM EDT
Hubble Telescope Offers Best-Ever View Of Mars
Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JP) predicts that there could be a major dust storm about to occur on Mars.
(Photo : NASA/Getty Images))

The Martian weather has proven to be predictable over time as NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover observed the climate on the red planet for years. Based on the weather patterns on Mars, a major dust storm is anticipated within the next few weeks.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) predicts that there is an incoming Martian dust storm that will envelop the planet in the coming weeks. On Earth, weather predictions managed to save lives of many, and if the journey to Mars will succeed, understanding the climate patterns on the red planet is vital for the crew to survive.

Scientists can tell if a major dust storm is happening by way of looking at the surface of the red planet. Hazy looking surfaces, where no craters or marks can be seen signify that a dust storm is currently happening, according to Cosmos Magazine.

Over the years, scientists with the aid of modern technology also advanced in predicting space weather including solar winds, radiations and other celestial disturbances. This expertise enables scientists to somehow predict climate activities on Mars.

JPL believes that a Martian dust storm will occur in the next few weeks.  The dust storm will cover most of the planet and will lessen the solar energy accessible to Martian rovers on the planet, Curiosity and Opportunity. The orbiters are the main concern of JPL, since major dust storms will either disrupt their work or it will make roving on the Martian terrain more difficult.

But despite the risks it poses to the rovers, dust storms are the only weather disturbance on Mars. They occur by regions and sometimes in large-scale covering the entire planet. Scientists are particularly concerned with global dust storms. "Mars will reach the midpoint of its current dust storm season on October 29th of this year. Based on the historical pattern we found, we believe it is very likely that a global dust storm will begin within a few weeks or months of this date," James Shirley, planetary scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.

Shirley released a study showing the patterns of Martian dust storms, and if the calculations are correct there might be a major one coming in the next few weeks. Scientists at NASA are still developing the predicting capabilities of the agency to be able to prepare for the journey to Mars. Solar energy will be one of the main sources of power on the red planet and knowing when it is and when it is not available could be vital for the crew that will land on the planet.


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