Scientists believe that future studies of Martian dust storms could help reveal how the atmospheres of different planets work.
Researchers from the European Space Agency (ESA) discovered a unusual phenomenon in the atmosphere of Marswhich can provide more information about the natural processes of cloud formation, according to a study published this November 15 in the journal Icarus.
The Mars Express probe captured in 2019 two dust storms that produced on Mars cloud patterns reminiscent of those on Earth. The scientists stressed that despite the fact that the two planets have incredibly different atmospheres (Mars is dry and cold, and Earth is dense, humid and warm), the dust clouds there would move in a spiral and in much the same way as on Earth. extratropical cyclones on Earth.
The formation of the clouds responds to a process of convection, a phenomenon in which warm air rises because it is less dense than the cooler air around it. On Earth, rising air contains water, which condenses to form clouds. Clouds on Mars form by the same process, but the rising columns of air contain dust, not water.
Colin Wilson, ESA’s Mars Express project scientist, stated that “it has been quite unexpected that, by tracking the chaotic motion of dust storms, parallels can be drawn to processes occurring in the hot, humid tropics of Earth, so decidedly unlike Mars.”
The discovery could help figure out how atmospheres work on different planets, while also having significant significance for future astronaut missions to Mars. Dust storm research may help prevent solar panels on rovers or future Martian colonies from losing power.