Technology

Global storms launch towers of dust into the Martian sky

No other planet in our Solar System has inspired the human imagination more than Mars. This is because, historically, the Red Planet was considered the most likely world to be the distant home of life beyond Earth. While this view has certainly become very outdated, Mars still draws Earthlings with its rusty-red surface, etched with small valleys carved into slopes, which are eerily similar in shape to gullies formed by flowing water. on the surface of our own planet. and where liquid water exists, life as we know it can also exist. But today, Mars is a frigid, dry wasteland, where violent dust storms are common, but every ten years or so, something unpredictable happens, and a series of runaway storms erupt, blanketing the entire planet in a dense blanket of dust. dust devil. In November 2019, planetary scientists announced that a fleet of NASA spacecraft got a good look at the life cycle of the huge, highly destructive, 2018 global dust storm that prematurely ended the visiting rover. of opportunity exploration mission on the surface of the Red Planet.

At this time, planetary scientists are still in the process of studying the new and puzzling data. However, two articles have recently been published that shed new light on a phenomenon observed within the huge dust storm:powder towers, which are concentrated clouds of dust that are heated by sunlight and then rise into the air. Planetary scientists have proposed that water vapor, imprisoned by dense, swirling dust, may be riding them in a way that has been likened to an elevator to space, where radiation from our Sun rips apart its molecules. This suggestion could help explain how Martian water vanished over billions of years.

Our Solar System is about 4.6 billion years old. Before about 3.8 billion years ago, Mars may have had a much denser atmosphere than it does today, as well as higher surface temperatures. These ancient conditions would have allowed large amounts of liquid water to exist on the Martian surface, including a large ocean that covered a third of the planet.

Almost all of the water on Mars today is in the form of ice, although some of it also exists as water vapor in its atmosphere. The only place water ice is seen on the Martian surface is in the north polar ice cap. However, a large amount of water ice is also present below the permanent carbon dioxide ice cap at the Martian south pole, as well as in the shallow subsurface under more temperate conditions.

More than 21 million km of ice have been discovered on or near the Martian surface. This equates to enough water ice to cover the entire planet to a depth of 115 feet. It is even more likely that water ice lurks deep in the Martian subsurface.

Large amounts of dust have formed on the surface of the Red planet as a result of its currently dry conditions. powder towers they are huge, churning clouds that rise considerably higher than normal background dust in the thin Martian atmosphere. Although powder towers They have also been seen under more normal conditions, appearing to form in greater numbers as a result of global storms.

HAS tower It first forms on the surface of a planet. It begins as a region of rapidly rising dust that is about the width of Rhode Island. By the time this dusty tower reaches the towering height of 50 miles, as seen during the infamous global dust storm of 2018, it may be as wide as the state of Nevada. As the tower begins to lose steam, it can form a dust blanket 35 miles above a planet’s surface that may be wider than the entire continental United States.

The findings of 2019, belonging to the exotic Martian. powder towerswere derived courtesy of NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)which is run by the agency Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) located in Pasadena, California. Although dust storms cover the Martian surface, MRO is able to use its heat sensor Mars Climate Probe instrument for penetrating heavy mist. The instrument is specifically designed to measure dust levels. Their data, along with images obtained from a camera aboard the orbiter called Mars Context Imager (MARC)allowed planetary scientists to detect numerous powder towers

the kingdom of Red planet

Mars is the fourth planet from our Sun, as well as the second smallest major planet in our Sun’s family after Mercury. In English, Mars is named after the Roman god of war due to its rusty red hue. This reddish coloration is courtesy of the large amounts of iron oxide on the Martian surface, and is unique among astronomical bodies visible to the unaided human eye. Mars is a solid, terrestrial planet, showing only a thin atmosphere. It also possesses surface features that are reminiscent both of impact craters on Earth’s Moon and of Earth’s polar ice caps, valleys, and deserts.

Martian days and seasons are also comparable to those of our own planet. This is because the period of rotation, as well as the tilt of the axis of rotation relative to the ecliptic plane, are similar for both sister worlds. Mars also hosts Mount Olympus, the largest volcano and tallest known mountain in our entire Solar System. Another surface feature, called Valles Marineris, it is one of the largest canyons in our Sun’s familiar family of planets, moons, and smaller objects. The smooth Boreal The basin, located in the northern hemisphere of Mars, covers 40% of the planet and is believed to be a giant impact scar left by a huge crashing object. Mars is also surrounded by a duo of small moons, phobos Y Deimos, which are irregularly shaped and resemble potatoes. The two small moons are considered captured asteroids.

The first observations of Mars were made by ancient Egyptian sky watchers. In 1534 BC C., these early astronomers were already familiar with the retrograde motion of the red planet. At the time of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Babylonian sky watchers made regular records of the positions of the planets, as well as systematic studies of their behavior. In the case of the Red Planet, ancient astronomers discovered that it made 42 revolutions of the zodiac every 79 years. These ancient astronomers even devised mathematical methods to make minor corrections to the predicted positions of the planets in our Solar System. Ancient sky watchers called the planets “wandering stars.”

In the fourth century a. C., the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle noted that Mars disappeared behind Earth’s Moon during an occultation. This indicated that the Red Planet was further from Earth than our Moon. The Greek astronomer Ptolemy, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, tried to determine the orbital motion of Mars, and his collective works and his model on astronomy were presented in his multivolume collection, under the title Almagest. Tea Almagest it was the authoritative work on Western astronomy for the next four centuries.

Ancient Chinese astronomers were also familiar with Mars no later than the 4th century BC. In the 5th century CE, the Indian astronomical work entitled Surya Siddhanta presented a measure of the estimated diameter of the Red Planet. In East Asian cultures, Mars is often called the “star of fire”, based on the Five elements: wood, water, earth, metal and fire.

In the 17th century, astronomer Tycho Brahe measured the diurnal parallax of Mars, which Johannes Kepler had used to make the first calculations of the distance of Mars from Earth. When the first telescopes, used for astronomical purposes, became available, the diurnal parallax of Mars was determined to make this measurement in 1692. However, these early measurements were flawed due to the poor quality of the telescopes.

Mars has not always looked the way we see it today. The Red Planet underwent a catastrophic tilt billions of years ago. Before this tilt occurred, the Martian poles were not located where they are now.

There is current research evaluating the habitability potential of the Red Planet in the past, as well as the possibility of life today. Future astrobiology missions are currently being planned. These missions include March 2020 Y rosalind franklin homeless. Today, liquid water cannot accumulate on the Martian surface, except at lower elevations for short periods, due to low atmospheric pressure, which amounts to less than 1% of Earth’s.

The United States, Europe, India and the Soviet Union have sent dozens of unmanned spacecraft to Mars, including rovers, orbiters and landers. These missions observed the surface, climate, and geology of the Red Planet. Over the last twenty years, cameras in orbit around Mars have sent a large number of revealing images of the “fire star” back to our planet.

Dust towers in the Martian sky

Although powder towers form throughout the Martian year, MRO observed something unusual about the catastrophic global dust storm of 2018. “Normally, the dust would fall in a day or so. But during a global storm, powder towers they continually renew themselves for weeks,” said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Nicholas Heavens, in a statement dated November 26, 2019 JPL press release. Dr. Heavens is from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.

In some cases, multiple towers have been observed for almost 4 weeks.

The rate of activity of the dust surprised Dr. Heavens and his colleagues. But what they found particularly intriguing was the possibility that powder towers they function as “space elevators” for other material. If this turns out to be the case, then powder towers it can play the important role of transporting other materials through the Martian atmosphere. When dust in the air heats up, it forms updrafts that carry gases along for the ride, including small amounts of water vapor that are sometimes seen as wispy clouds on Mars.

In a previous paper, Dr. Heavens had shown that during a Martian global dust storm in 2007, water molecules were blasted into the upper atmosphere, where radiation from our Sun could break them down into particles that scream out into interplanetary space. That mechanism could provide an important clue as to how the Red Planet lost its lakes and rivers billions of years ago, thus becoming the icy, desolate wasteland it is today.

Planetary scientists aren’t sure how global dust storms form. This is because they have only managed to study less than a dozen of these storms so far. But with more time to collect additional data, the MRO team will seek a new understanding of how powder towers they form within global storms and what role they may play in removing water from the Martian atmosphere.

Dr. David Kass, Climate Sounder Scientist at JPLhe told the press that “global dust storms are really unusual. We don’t really have anything like this on Earth, where the climate of the entire planet changes for several months.”

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