First video of a storm on Mars

Wind and dust storms on Mars are a common phenomenon. However, it has never been possible to film one before. Thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover, it has. Now we have the first video of a storm on Mars. The article is in ‘Science Advances’.

The first video of a storm on Mars is now available.
The first video of a storm on Mars is now available.

Cameras ready

“It’s an opportunity to better understand the planet’s climate,” explains Claire Newman of Aeolis Research. It’s a research company focused on planetary atmospheres. She expects to run into even more exciting weather phenomena. “We had a storm right on top of us in January. It’s very likely we’ll see more storms.”

Perseverance made these observations with the rover’s cameras. It used an array of sensors belonging to the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). It includes wind sensors and light sensors. They can detect eddies as they scatter sunlight around the rover. In addition, a sky-facing camera to capture images of dust and clouds.

“Jezero crater may be in one of the most active dust sources on the planet.” Says Manuel de la Torre Juarez, MEDA deputy principal investigator at JPL. “Everything new we learn about the dust will be useful for future missions.” Because Martian dust is one of the main hazards for instruments. The proof is in the InSight probe. After three years on the surface, it has had to stop its activity because of the dust accumulated on its instruments.

Dust in the air

The first video of a storm on Mars serves as a clue. At least four whirlwinds a day pass over the rover. Their concentration usually occurs just after noon, with more than one a day at this time. The wind gusts kicked up large clouds of dust.

One of these was a massive cloud covering 4 square kilometers. It can kick up as much or more dust than whirlwinds, which outnumber them.

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