Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Mars' Dust Storm Is So Intense It's Now Encircling The Entire Planet

Credit NASA  JPL-Caltech  Univ. of Arizona Mars' Dust Storm Is So Intense It's Now Encircling The Entire Planet
Theresa Hayes | 25 June, 2018, 20:26

HiRISE is responsible for a number of striking images taken on Mars, and the MRO's high location and mobility provides a lot more opportunities for photo ops than the rovers patrolling the Martian surface (especially since they're both caught in dust storms right now).

The dust storm has wreaked havoc on Mars, though the Curiosity rover has not been affected, as it relies on plutonium and not sunlight as a fuel source. This dust storm that is capable of reaching up to 40 miles in height, could possibly cover an area as big as the entire Russian Federation and North America combined as a unity.

NASA's Opportunity rover, which has been on Mars for almost 15 years, is going into sleep mode.

NASA's Mars orbiter captured this particular dune on January 24, 2018. This device is unprecedented in terms of studying the red planet. It seems that this haze is eight times thicker than normal, covering the planet in darkness, and making Curiosity rover's camera work more in the lack of proper lighting. For capturing this imagery, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter used its efficient HiRise camera.

Now, Bruce Cantor of the Malin Space Science Systems says that the storm has progressed to a "planet-encircling" or global dust event, NASA reports. This is due to the fact that this storm covers much of Mars in contrary to common Martian dust storms that are usually limited to local areas. The images show that it started in the beginning of June as a major regional-scale atmospheric event and began expanding along the northern hemisphere from eastern Tharsis / Elysium regions around June 4.

Last week, NASA disclosed that it lost contact with the "Oppy" rover, adding that the engineers do not expect to hear back from the robot until the skies begin to clear above it.

Just to the south of the group of barchan dunes lies a large dune with a stranger and more complex structure, depicted in a striking blue shade in the enhanced color image.

The changes made by the dust storm can be clearly seen in this image taken by the rover's MastCam.