The mystery of giant dust storms on Mars sweeping the planet may finally be solved, a new study reveals

SOLAR activity could be the cause of seasonal dust storms on Mars, according to new research.

Powerful dust storms sweep the Martian surface every three to four Martian years—roughly five and a half to seven and a half Earth years.

Solar activity could be the cause of seasonal dust storms on Mars, new research suggests.

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Solar activity could be the cause of seasonal dust storms on Mars, new research suggests.Image credits: NASA, James Bell (Cornell Univ.), Michael Wolff (Space Science Inst.), and Hubble (STScI/AURA)

For years, the occurrence has puzzled scientists unsure where the Martian dust comes from or how it spreads.

Though now a team of researchers from the University of Houston thinks they have some answers.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that dust storms on Mars result from seasonal energy imbalances.

The energy imbalances are rooted in the amount of solar energy being absorbed and emitted by the planet.

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In particular, they found that excess energy — more energy being absorbed than produced — could be one of the factors creating dust storms on Mars, said Ellen Creecy, the study’s lead author.

“Our results, showing strong energy imbalances, suggest that current numerical models should be reviewed as they typically assume that Mars’ radiant energy is balanced between Martian seasons,” said Dr. Germán Martínez, USRA Staff Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). ) and co-author of the article.

The team collected its data from several missions including the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), the Curiosity rover and the InSight lander.

Analyzing their results, the team discovered strong seasonal and diurnal variations in the amount of solar energy radiated from Mars.

Specifically, the energy imbalance between the seasons on Mars was about 15.3 percent – on Earth it’s about 0.4 percent.

The study also found that during a severe dust storm in 2001, the amount of electricity delivered decreased by 22 percent during the day but increased by 29 percent at night.

These results could help researchers better understand the Red Planet’s climate and atmosphere.

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In addition, understanding these storms could help future missions to Mars be better and safer.

“Our results highlight the link between dust storms and energy imbalances and may provide new insights into the formation of dust storms on Mars,” reiterated Dr. Martinez.

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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5404619/mystery-giant-mars-dust-storm/ The mystery of giant dust storms on Mars sweeping the planet may finally be solved, a new study reveals

Chris Barrese

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