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 New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon
16.07.2018 | University of California - Santa Cruz

nachricht Scientists discover Earth's youngest banded iron formation in western China
12.07.2018 | University of Alberta

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>