A new picture taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter illustrates how a planet-wide dust storm has taken over Mars. The Red Planet is experiencing such events every six to eight years and we are assisting to one of those moments.
It looks like the storm could have a great impact on the functionality of the Opportunity rover that runs on solar power. It had to be stopped until the storm ends, which could happen in a few months from now. Scientists are also concerned about Opportunity’s future, as the rover could be significantly affected by the dust that will settle over its panels.
Curiosity rover to the rescue
With Opportunity being shut down, we only have the Curiosity rover to monitor the situation on Mars. Scientists are using the rover’s THEMIS instrument in order to follow the Red Planet’s atmospheric and surface temperature, as well as the quantity of dust that can be found in the atmosphere. Therefore, we can be happy that there is at least one way of observing the dust storm on Mars, which seems to be immensely helpful.
Scientists hope to uncover the mystery of this Martian storm
According to Rich Zurek of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it is absolutely incredible that a small storm can evolve into an event so big that it can cover an entire planet. Scientists are trying to understand how such powerful storm is being created on Mars. They also hope to find out if there is any link between these storms and the water that was abundant in the past on the surface of the Red Planet.
We hope this special event will help scientists reveal some mysteries about the evolution of Mars. At the moment we will just have to wait for more news to come.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.