Martian dust storm goes global

These two views from NASA's Curiosity rover, acquired specifically to measure the amount of dust inside Gale Crater, show that dust has increased over three days from a major Martian dust storm. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

These two views from NASA’s Curiosity rover, acquired specifically to measure the amount of dust inside Gale Crater, show that dust has increased over three days from a major Martian dust storm. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

For the first time in over ten years, Mars’ atmosphere is globally darkening because of a massive dust storm that began in the Arabia Terra region back in May. Although the massive storm reduces the amount of light reaching the Martian surface, the winds that generate such storms are not the rocket-tipping, astronaut-killing events, as depicted in the fictional account “The Martian.” Instead, winds mobilize only the smallest of sand grains and dust, obscuring the sky and shifting sand on the ground.

The solar-powered Opportunity rover is already offline waiting out the storm but NASA’s Curiosity rover is still sending data from its location within Gale crater on the opposite side of the Red Planet. In the coming weeks, Curiosity will have a front-row seat to see the latest dust storm, generating important observations to help us understand Mars’ periodic, global dusty weather.

For more information, visit:

Observations of the initiation and evolution of the 2001 Mars global dust storm
NASA Mars Exploration Rover Status Report
Martian Dust Storm Grows Global; Curiosity Captures Photos of Thickening Haze

Be Sociable, Share!