ESAs Mars Express Probe Captures Photos of Raging Dust Storms

first_imgStay on target Dust storm season is in full swing on the Red Planet: The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express probe snapped photos of many dust storms circling Mars’ north pole over the last month and they are an eerie sight.Mars’ northern hemisphere is experiencing spring right now, with small dust-lifting events and water-ice clouds appearing along the edge of the seasonally retreating ice cap, ESA said in a press release. The Mars Express probe witnessed at least eight different storms near the ice cap between May 22 and June 10, which took place between one and three days, developing and dissipating very quickly during this time, Space.com reported.Two cameras on the Mars Express spacecraft, including the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) and the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) have been keeping an eye on the storms for a few weeks. The photo with swirly colors was taken by the HRSC on May 26 and it shows a spiral-shaped dust storm, while a sequence of many images (shown below) feature a different storm monitored by the VMC over a 70-minute period on May 29.A Mars dust storm’s sweeping motion across the planet. (Photo Credit: ESA / GCP / UPV / EHU Bilbao)A collection of other Mars Express images show three different storms raging on May 22, May 26, and between June 6 and June 10 (see below). With the last storm, the cameras witnessed the storm brew for many days as it spiraled in an equatorward direction. Light-colored clouds can also be spotted at the outer area of the polar cap and close to Mars’ volcanoes Elysium Mons and Olympus Mons.Various dust storms observed near the Red Planet’s volcanoes, Elysium Mons and Olympus Mons. (Photo Credit: ESA)With the help of the MARCI camera that’s aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Express probe noticed that when the dust storms hit the big volcanoes, orographic clouds, also known as water ice clouds that are driven by the volcano’s leeward slope on the air flow, started to evaporate due to air mass being warmed up by the raging dust storms.Typically, local or regional storms can last for a few days or weeks, however, when they’re severe, they can surround the entire planet, similar to what happened on Mars last year. Bad dust storms covered the Red Planet and caused NASA’s Opportunity rover to eventually shut down due to a lack of sunlight.More on Geek.com:NASA’s InSight Team Investigates Stuck ‘Mole’ on Mars NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Gets 7-Foot-Long Robotic Arm NASA’s Curiosity Detects Highest-Ever Volume of Methane on Mars NASA Captures ‘Red-Handed’ Avalanche on Mars in Mesmerizing PhotoBest Skywatching Events in September 2019 last_img

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