To state there are some misconceptions flowing about Martian dust storms would be an understatement. Mars is understood for its globe-encircling dust storms, the similarity which are seen no place else. Sci-fi authors and Hollywood films frequently make the dust storms out to be more unsafe than they actually are. In “ The Martian,” an effective dust storm ruins devices, hairs Matt Damon on Mars, and requires him into a harsh battle for survival.

In truth– though international dust storms are a real phenomenon, and winds can reach speeds of almost 100 kph (60 miles per hour)– they’re not violent. 100 kph is half the speed of some cyclones here in the world. Likewise, the Martian environment is far less thick than Earth’s environment, so even the most effective storms could not ruin any significant devices. You may not even have the ability to fly a kite.

However the dust storms on Mars are essential to comprehend, and they can have repercussions. The Chance rover was dropped by an international dust storm that overwhelmed it. And any future human existence on Mars will need to take Martian dust storms into account.

A panorama image of the Opportunity rover, showing the solar panels. The rover's science operations were shut down because of the growing global dust storm. By NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell - /, Public Domain,
A panorama picture of the Chance rover, revealing the photovoltaic panels. The rover’s science operations were closed down due to the fact that of the growing international dust storm. Ultimately, Chance stopped working. By NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell– a.html/, Public Domain,

A set of astronomers at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have actually launched a brand-new research study into Martian dust storms. They are Michael Battalio and Huiqun Wang, and their research study is entitled “ The Aonia-Solis-Valles dust storm track in the southern hemisphere of Mars” It was released in Science Direct

Martian dust storms are categorized into 3 classifications: regional, local, and international. The smaller sized storms take place throughout the year, while the international storms are active throughout the northern fall and winter season.

In their paper, Battalio and Wang stress the reality that a big adequate storm can impact climatic flow, thermal structure, and, obviously, exposure. It resembles Mars has a dust cycle that’s equivalent to Earth’s water cycle In their research study, they concentrate on an area referred to as Aonia-Solis-Valles Marineris (ASV.) ASV is an area that runs north-south from Valles Marineris, through Solis Planum, and Aonia Terra

The Aonia-Solis-Valles Marineris is an area on Mars covering from Aonia Terr through Solis Planum to Valles Marineris. Image Credit: By Jim Secosky customized NASA image.–, Public Domain,

The set examined 8 Martian years worth of everyday information from Mars Daily Global Maps(MDGM.) MDGM is a set of everyday images caught by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the Mars Global Property Surveyor (MGS.)

The astronomers concentrated on the ASV due to the fact that it’s the website of the most essential storm activity in the southern hemisphere, beyond the standard dust storm season. They discovered that storms there might be divided into 2 groups:

  • Storms that cover big areas and last more than 6 days.
  • Storms that cover smaller sized, regional areas and last less than 6 days.

In the ASV, storms arrange themselves into series. In the late southern winter season, synoptic eddies, tidal winds, and strong time-mean winds affect the area. These storms not just increase the opacity of the environment, the can often affect the massive thermal structure of the environment and planetary waves (likewise referred to as Rossby Waves) Planetary waves are big– they can have wavelengths in the countless kilometers– and are propagated by the rotation of the world, in this case Mars.

Earth has planetary waves, too. And in the world as on Mars, they contribute in weather condition. Credit: NASA

They likewise discovered a periodicity to the storms. There’s a 15 to 20 Martian day cycle to the storms, and it’s most likely linked to a comparable periodicity in the southern hemisphere’s energy transportation systems.

They likewise identified an extra category to the storms in the ASV. Some are consecutive, and some are non-sequential. According to the authors, these findings validate a theory that dust storms can restore and sustain themselves, where one storm feeds into the next in a series. By the time completion of a series is reached, the storm is much bigger than non-sequential ones. Consecutive storms have to do with 3.7 times bigger than the non-sequentials.

The set of scientists likewise discovered that storms in the ASV are essential factors to international dust storms. The bigger, consecutive storms loft a great deal of dust into Mars’ environment. They likewise discovered that throughout years of no international dust storms, the ASV is non-active throughout northern fall and winter season.

The scientists have actually developed the concept of a Martian dust cycle that parallels– a minimum of in part– the water cycle here in the world. As they state in the conclusion of their paper, “The resemblances and di?erences in between our outcomes and the terrestrial require additional examination.”

” The Martian” was an enjoyable movie. If you have an interest in area, you most likely liked it. However there’s no chance that Matt Damon’s character would’ve been so unprepared for the storm that struck him. And there’s no chance that such vital facilities would’ve been so susceptible to that storm.

Thanks to the 2 researchers behind this research study, and countless other researchers, by the time there are human beings on Mars, they’ll understand what they’re entering into.