Astronomers at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics have used daily global maps from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions to Mars for eight years to map no less than 14,974 dust storms larger than 100,000 square kilometers and more than one day. duration .
Information for future missions
In this way, an attempt has been made to analyze particularities and patterns in storms that significantly affect the transmission, thermal structure and circulation of the Martian atmosphere.
All of this information is an invaluable new resource for modeling the Martian atmosphere and mission planning .
Huge dust storms, which persist for weeks and even months, darkening the entire planet, can appear suddenly, although they are more frequent after the planet’s perihelion and in the southern hemisphere, when it is the end of spring, they are caused by winds. over 150 km / h.
Just as on Earth a wind of 50 to 60 km / h is enough to raise clouds of dust, on Mars, given the very low density of the air, only a gale of about 200 km / h can produce the same effect. These storms can reach planetary dimensions.