Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

And now the weather ... on Mars

03.07.2002


Blinding dust storms can seriously ruin your plans for a landing on Mars. ESA is adapting the global climate models that we use to forecast our weather on Earth for the turbulent conditions that Mars offers its future visitors.



You could hardly call the weather on Mars pleasant, and presently it is far from predictable. As well as having an average surface temperature of -63°C, and a thin, inhospitable atmosphere of mainly carbon dioxide, last year, a springtime dust storm smothered the entire planet for months. There are also dust devils, which are swirling columns of dust that can reach several kilometres in height that frequently race across the barren surface. Such severe and dusty weather conditions can interfere with the manoeuvres made by spacecraft as they enter an orbit around the planet. For a craft landing on the surface, scientific investigations would have to be put on hold until the weather got better.

Like all travellers, ESA scientists want to make sure that the weather is good when future missions arrive on Mars. They have developed a global atmospheric circulation model for Mars, which uses the same principles as those developed for Earth`s erratic weather patterns.


Here on Earth, it is water that is the driving force behind our weather. On Mars, where there is only a tiny amount of water vapour from its north pole in summer, dust takes over the role, heating the atmosphere by absorbing sunlight. Since the atmosphere on Mars is so thin and there are no oceans on the surface to store the heat from the Sun, temperatures rise and fall more quickly and dramatically because of surface changes and atmospheric heating by the Sun.

Similarly to Earth`s weather, hot air rising at the equator is replaced by cooler air, giving rise to trade winds which stir up the Martian dust, provoking the small storms that can merge to form the monster tempests.

The climate models formulated by ESA scientists show us the pattern of the storms throughout the Martian year, but the mystery remains why some years are dustier than others. Mars Express, the ESA mission to the Red Planet that is due to arrive in December 2003, will be sending back data that could help us solve this mystery and perfect our weather maps of Mars. The mission has been timed to arrive at Mars at the end of the Martian winter in the northern hemisphere, making it highly unlikely that there is a dust storm at the time of arrival.

A super-resolution camera will take more accurate and detailed images of the Martian atmosphere than ever before, imaging the entire planet in full colour, 3D, and at high resolution. Two other instruments will take vital measurements of the dust, atmospheric gases, and surface composition.

Over its four-year lifetime, Mars Express will be closely watching the clouds, fog, dust devils, and storms, looking for clues to explain the climate changes on Mars, now and in the past. The data it returns will help to check and refine the new Martian global climate models so that future missions make sure they arrive there during the high season.

Monica Talevi | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/ESAPWZJE43D_index_0.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate change weakens Walker circulation
20.10.2017 | MARUM - Zentrum für Marine Umweltwissenschaften an der Universität Bremen

nachricht Shallow soils promote savannas in South America
20.10.2017 | Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>