Friday, April 17, 2009

Massive dust storms (on Mars)

Just like hurricane season or tornado season on Earth, Mars has stormy seasons, too. However, the Red Planet has dust storms, and they can be whoppers, which is bad news for the two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity who rely on clear skies and sunshine for power. On April 21, Mars will be at the closest point to the sun in the planet’s 23-month, elliptical orbit. One month later, the planet’s equinox will mark the start of summer in Mars’ southern hemisphere. This atmospheric-warming combination makes the coming weeks the most likely time of the Martian year for dust storms, and given the current forecast based on data from the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey, these storms could be severe enough to minimize activities of the rovers.

Click here for the entire article.

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