NASA’s Perseverance rover has been exploring Mars and digging for signs of life since landing on Mars last February. In addition to rocks and an alien atmosphere, the rover also witnessed some intense dust winds known as dust storms in Jezero Crater. In a new study, scientists sought to examine the weather phenomena experienced by the rover during its first 216 Martian sols. The findings are said to help scientists unravel dust processes on Mars and possibly predict future dust storms on the Red Planet.
NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully photographed a phenomenon in which gusts of wind kick up a giant cloud of Martian dust. It also detected hundreds of dust winds using cameras and a suite of sensors mounted on it.
Claire Newman, a researcher at Aeolis Research, said: “We had a regional dust storm overhead in January, but we’re still in the middle of the dust season, so we’re likely to see more. the authors of the study, published in Science Advances.
The study noted that Perseverance experienced at least four cyclones in a typical day on Mars. The researchers observed such winds passing over the rover on more than one occasion during the peak period just after noon.
The rover’s cameras also captured three wind gust events that created dust clouds 4 square kilometers across. Together, these gusts have the potential to lift as much or more dust than a cyclone.
“We think these gusts are rare, but could be responsible for much of the background dust that’s been circling in the Martian atmosphere,” Newman said.
Mars is famous for its dust storms, and the entire planet witnesses wind and dust. However, the researchers observed much larger dust storm activity at Jezero crater. According to Newman, this may be due to factors such as the roughness of its surface which helps the wind to pick up dust.
“Even though Jezero Crater has lower average wind speeds and comparable peak wind speeds and cyclonic activity to Elysium Planitia, Jezero Crater is generally more dusty,” Newman explained.
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