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Dust Clouds Storm Near Martian Ice Caps

July 22, 2018
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Dust Clouds Storm Near Martian Ice Caps

An image from the European Space Agency shows thick dust clouds approaching ahead of a giant storm. The dust moves near the planet’s north polar ice cap.

ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft captured the stunning photo of the raging storm on the red planet.

Everyone here on Earth has been following the latest news about the storm that is soon going to invade Mars globally.

The spacecraft captured the spectacular image back in April but ESA revealed it on July 19.

“The high-resolution stereo camera on board ESA’s Mars Express captured this impressive upwelling front of dust clouds — visible in the right half of the frame — near the north polar ice cap of Mars in April this year,” space agency officials detailed in the photo release.

ESA calls it “one of several local small-scale dust storms” seen earlier this year. The space agency says Mars is experiencing a particularly intense dust storm season.

Dust storms happen on Mars usually during the southern summer season when the planet is closer to the sun. The brightness increases the differences in temperature on Mars, therefore it affects the air movement on the planet. The changing temperatures allow the Martian air to more easily lift dust particles on the surface, according to a statement from ESA.

However, in order to land humans on the surface of Mars, scientists, indeed, need to study the dust storms on Mars.

Meanwhile, ESA and NASA are monitoring the monster dust storm on Mars with their five orbiters — including the MRO which captured the beautiful photo of the storm.

“Understanding more about how global storms form and evolve will be critical for future solar-powered missions to Mars,” ESA says.

The Martian dust storms actually have less than half the wind speed of our cyclones back home. That’s because the red planet has a much lower atmospheric pressure. So, in this case, even high-speed winds wouldn’t pose a threat to anyone caught in the storm.

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Thumbnail image: Mars Express caught sight of these dust clouds in April. Credit: Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

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