Curiosity captures pics of thickening haze — ScienceDaily


A storm of small dust particles has engulfed considerably of Mars more than the last two months and prompted NASA’s Possibility rover to suspend science functions. But throughout the earth, NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has been finding out Martian soil at Gale Crater, is envisioned to remain mainly unaffected by the dust. When Prospect is driven by daylight, which is blotted out by dust at its present place, Curiosity has a nuclear-powered battery that operates working day and night time.

The Martian dust storm has grown in dimensions and is now formally a “planet-encircling” (or “world”) dust party.

Though Curiosity is on the other facet of Mars from Chance, dust has steadily amplified above it, extra than doubling around the weekend. The atmospheric haze blocking daylight, known as “tau,” is now above 8. at Gale Crater — the greatest tau the mission has at any time recorded. Tau was previous measured in the vicinity of 11 over Opportunity, thick plenty of that correct measurements are no for a longer time attainable for Mars’ oldest lively rover.

For NASA’s human experts observing from the floor, Curiosity provides an unprecedented window to answer some thoughts. A person of the most important: Why do some Martian dust storms very last for months and grow large, even though some others remain tiny and very last only a 7 days?

“We you should not have any good plan,” said Scott D. Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Place Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland escort, major Curiosity’s dust storm investigation.

Curiosity, he points out, furthermore a fleet of spacecraft in the orbit of Mars, will enable scientists for the first time to accumulate a prosperity of dust information the two from the surface area and from place. The very last storm of global magnitude that enveloped Mars was in 2007, five a long time prior to Curiosity landed there.

In the animation, Curiosity is facing the crater rim, about 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) away from exactly where it stands inside the crater. Day by day photographs captured by its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, present the sky receiving hazier. This sunshine-obstructing wall of haze is about six to eight instances thicker than ordinary for this time of time.

Curiosity’s engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have analyzed the potential for the expanding dust storm to affect the rover’s devices, and say it poses very little danger. The largest effect is to the rover’s cameras, which call for added publicity time because of to the small lights. The rover currently routinely points its Mastcam down at the ground following just about every use to lower the sum of dust blowing at its optics. JPL qualified prospects the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity mission.

Martian dust storms are common, especially through southern hemisphere spring and summer time, when the earth is closest to the Sunlight. As the atmosphere warms, winds generated by much larger contrasts in surface temperature at different places mobilize dust particles the dimension of individual talcum powder grains. Carbon dioxide frozen on the wintertime polar cap evaporates, thickening the ambiance and growing the surface tension. This boosts the approach by serving to suspend the dust particles in the air. In some instances, the dust clouds access up to 40 miles (60 kilometers) or extra in elevation.

Nevertheless they are prevalent, Martian dust storms normally continue to be contained to a local location. By distinction, the latest storm, if it ended up happening on Earth, is even bigger than North The us and Russia blended, said Guzewich.

The dust storm may seem exotic to some Earthlings, but it is really not one of a kind to Mars. Earth has dust storms, too, in desert locations these as North Africa, the Center East and the southwest United States.

But disorders in this article avert them from spreading globally, mentioned Ralph A. Kahn, a Goddard senior investigation scientist who scientific studies the atmospheres of Earth and Mars. These contain the structure of our thicker environment and stronger gravity that aids settle dust. Earth also has vegetation go over on land that binds the soil with its roots and will help block the wind and rain that clean the particles out of the environment.


Curiosity captures pictures of thickening haze — ScienceDaily