A dust storm swept through Mars in 2018, destroying a vortex of cold air around the South Pole and bringing half of the planet early spring.
A dust storm swept through Mars in 2018, destroying a vortex of cold air around the planet’s south pole and bringing half of the planet early spring.
In contrast, the storm caused only minor distortions in the northern hemisphere polar vortex and did not produce dramatic seasonal changes.
Over the course of two weeks in early June 2018, local dust storms converged and spread to form an impenetrable blanket of dust that hid nearly the entire surface of the planet, and a global dust storm coinciding with the Martian equinox and lasting until mid-September proved fatal to NASA’s solar-powered rover. Which is solar powered.
Dr. Paul Streeter of the US Open University’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and colleagues from NASA and the Russian Academy of Sciences examined the event’s effects on the Martian atmosphere by combining data from the Mars Global Climate Model with observations from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. and the European Space Agency’s Orbital Gas Tracking Vehicle, and the results of this study were presented Friday at the Virtual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).
Dr Streeter says: “The unprecedented storm was an ideal opportunity to investigate how global dust storms affect the atmosphere at the poles of Mars, which are surrounded by powerful jets of wind in winter. Since the last global storm in 2007, many new tasks and tools have been implemented. that reached Mars orbit, so the 2018 event was the most watched so far.”
Previous research has shown that high levels of dust in the atmosphere can have significant effects on temperatures and polar winds. Air vortices affect temperatures and the transport of air, dust, water and chemicals, so disrupting them could mean major changes in the Martian atmosphere.
The research team found that the 2018 storm had very different effects in both hemispheres of Mars. At the South Pole, where the vortex was nearly destroyed, temperatures rose and wind speeds dropped dramatically, while the vortex may have already begun to disintegrate due to the onset of spring. The dust storm appears to have had a decisive effect in ending winter early.
In contrast, the Arctic vortex has remained stable, following its usual pattern at the beginning of autumn, and researchers link this to the high content of dust in the atmosphere that suppresses atmospheric waves caused by extreme terrain in the Northern Hemisphere, which contains volcanoes more than twice the height of Mt. Everest and craters as deep as terrestrial mountains.
Dr Streeter added: “Global dust storms at the equinox may enhance the transition to the Antarctic due to eddy contraction, while the more powerful northern vortex continues to act as an effective barrier. Dust in the Arctic and Antarctic and our understanding of the planet’s climate history.”
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