NASA’s Mars orbiters have detected massive regional dust storms on the Red Planet. Researchers have revealed the patterns by recording the temperature of the planet. In a decade of research, NASA observed three regional storm patterns forming each year at the same time throughout the southern hemisphere during the spring and summer.
“When we look at the temperature structure instead of the visible dust, we finally see some regularity in the large dust storms,” said David Kass of NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California in a report by NASA. “Recognizing a pattern in the occurrence of regional dust storms is a step toward understanding the fundamental atmospheric properties controlling them,” he said. “We still have much to learn, but this gives us a valuable opening,” Kass added.
All the storms dubbed as type A, B, and C emerged during an investigation of six Martian years.
- Type A storm starts from the north and travels to the southern atmosphere. Meanwhile, the sunlight heats up the dust particles and produces energy which increases the wind speed, causing an uplift in the dust, which expands to a large area.
- Type B begins before the southern summer, close to the south pole. It could begin near the south polar carbon dioxide ice cap.
- Type C starts from the north in northern winters. It then directs to the southern hemisphere like Type A, varying in temperature, size, and strength yearly.
As dust particles absorb sunlight, the temperature recorded is more than the temperature of the clean air. According to NASA, sometimes the temperature difference between dust and clean air reaches 63 Fahrenheit degrees (35 Celsius degrees). The phenomenon affects the wind distribution globally, causing a downward motion and warming the dust regions from the outside. Consequently, the atmospheric temperature shows deviating and non-deviating affects on the atmosphere.
“On Mars, some of this break-off and head farther south along favored tracks,” MBN reported Kass’s statement.
“If they cross into the southern hemisphere, where it is mid-spring, they get warmer and can explode into the much larger Type A dust storms.”