NASA's Mars orbiter spots massive dust storms bigger than US swelling on Red Planet - Watch
Images from the orbiter's wide-angle Mars Color Imager (MARCI) show each storm growing in the Acidalia area of northern Mars, then blowing southward and exploding to sizes bigger than the United States after reaching the southern hemisphere.
New Delhi: Latest images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) reveal massive dust storms bigger than the size of United States are engulfing the Red Planet.
“Images from the orbiter's wide-angle Mars Color Imager (MARCI) show each storm growing in the Acidalia area of northern Mars, then blowing southward and exploding to sizes bigger than the United States after reaching the southern hemisphere,” NASA said.
The regional dust storm currently swelling on Mars follows unusually closely on one that blossomed less than two weeks earlier and is now dissipating, as seen in daily global weather monitoring by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
"What's unusual is we're seeing a second one so soon after the first one," said Mars meteorologist Bruce Cantor of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, which built and operates MARCI. "We've had orbiters watching weather patterns on Mars continuously for nearly two decades now, and many patterns are getting predictable, but just when we think we have Mars figured out, it throws us another surprise."
By combining hundreds of images from the Mars Color Imager camera onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the space agency released a stunning animation showing a global map of Mars with atmospheric changes from February 18, 2017, through March 6, 2017, a period when two regional-scale dust storms appeared.
— NASA (@NASA) March 9, 2017
That development path is a common pattern for generating regional dust storms during spring and summer in Mars' southern hemisphere, where it is now mid-summer.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched August 12, 2005, is on a search for evidence that water persisted on the surface of Mars for a long period of time.
The orbiter monitors storms with its Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) instrument as well as with MARCI.