NASA/JPL: The Perfect Storm for Science on Mars

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bystander
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NASA/JPL: The Perfect Storm for Science on Mars

Post by bystander » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:10 pm

NASA Encounters the Perfect Storm for Science
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars Exploration | 2018 Jun 13
One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA's Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft to learn from the swirling dust.

NASA has three orbiters circling the Red Planet, each equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments. Additionally, NASA's Curiosity rover has begun to see an increase in dust at its location in Gale Crater. ...

The current storm above Opportunity, which is still growing, now blankets 14 million square miles (35 million square kilometers) of Martian surface -- about a quarter of the planet.

All dust events, regardless of size, help shape the Martian surface. Studying their physics is critical to understanding the ancient and modern Martian climate ...
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Re: NASA/JPL: The Perfect Storm for Science on Mars

Post by BDanielMayfield » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:10 pm

bystander wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:10 pm
NASA Encounters the Perfect Storm for Science
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars Exploration | 2018 Jun 13
One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA's Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft to learn from the swirling dust.

NASA has three orbiters circling the Red Planet, each equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments. Additionally, NASA's Curiosity rover has begun to see an increase in dust at its location in Gale Crater. ...

The current storm above Opportunity, which is still growing, now blankets 14 million square miles (35 million square kilometers) of Martian surface -- about a quarter of the planet.

All dust events, regardless of size, help shape the Martian surface. Studying their physics is critical to understanding the ancient and modern Martian climate ...
Could such windstorms on Mars be as dangerous to astronauts as the ones depicted in the movie The Martian ? With the rarified air pressure there I doubted that massive objects could be pushed about as much as shown.

Bruce
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Re: NASA/JPL: The Perfect Storm for Science on Mars

Post by rstevenson » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:06 pm

BDanielMayfield wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:10 pm
Could such windstorms on Mars be as dangerous to astronauts as the ones depicted in the movie The Martian ? With the rarified air pressure there I doubted that massive objects could be pushed about as much as shown.

Bruce
I wondered that when I saw the movie, Bruce. And here's the answer... 'The Martian' Dust Storm Would Actually Be a Breeze.

Rob

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Re: NASA/JPL: The Perfect Storm for Science on Mars

Post by Ann » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:29 pm

rstevenson wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:06 pm
BDanielMayfield wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:10 pm
Could such windstorms on Mars be as dangerous to astronauts as the ones depicted in the movie The Martian ? With the rarified air pressure there I doubted that massive objects could be pushed about as much as shown.

Bruce
I wondered that when I saw the movie, Bruce. And here's the answer... 'The Martian' Dust Storm Would Actually Be a Breeze.

Rob
But this doesn't sound too good:
Smith said a person standing on the planet's surface would have trouble seeing — how much trouble is unclear, but it would be darker. The grinding sand would also get into everything: spacesuits, habitats, rovers and other equipment, Smith said.
Ann
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BDanielMayfield
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Re: NASA/JPL: The Perfect Storm for Science on Mars

Post by BDanielMayfield » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:57 am

rstevenson wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:06 pm
BDanielMayfield wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:10 pm
Could such windstorms on Mars be as dangerous to astronauts as the ones depicted in the movie The Martian ? With the rarified air pressure there I doubted that massive objects could be pushed about as much as shown.

Bruce
I wondered that when I saw the movie, Bruce. And here's the answer... 'The Martian' Dust Storm Would Actually Be a Breeze.

Rob
Thanks Rob, that confirmed what I thought.

Ann, your right about the dust being a big issue though. It is here on Earth too, as my wife and I found out when trying to pitch a tent once in a west Texas windstorm. We had to give up and drive about an hour further to find a hotel room.

Bruce
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Re: NASA/JPL: The Perfect Storm for Science on Mars

Post by rstevenson » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:18 pm

I recall my mother talking about duststorms back in "the dirty 30s", when she was growing up in Calgary. Huge walls of dark dust would occasionally sweep over the sity. They'd stuff anything they could into cracks below doors, and use damp tea towels to try to seal up their single-hung windows, to little effect. After the storm they'd have to clean the whole house, since the dust got in anyway.

Martian dust would have one extra inconvenience -- it would be a major irritant to skin, eyes, lungs, and throats. And then there's the perchlorate content of the dust, which can cause thyroid problems.

Rob

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Re: NASA/JPL: The Perfect Storm for Science on Mars

Post by BDanielMayfield » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:55 am

rstevenson wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:18 pm
I recall my mother talking about duststorms back in "the dirty 30s", when she was growing up in Calgary. Huge walls of dark dust would occasionally sweep over the sity. They'd stuff anything they could into cracks below doors, and use damp tea towels to try to seal up their single-hung windows, to little effect. After the storm they'd have to clean the whole house, since the dust got in anyway.

Martian dust would have one extra inconvenience -- it would be a major irritant to skin, eyes, lungs, and throats. And then there's the perchlorate content of the dust, which can cause thyroid problems.

Rob
I didn't know that the dustbowl conditions of the '30s extended clear up into Canada. The southern end of this effect caused by drought and unwise farming practices was in Texas. My dad had memories about it too.

On Mars I would think if your skin, eyes, etc. are exposed to martian air you wouldn't have to worry much about long term dust effects. :ohno:

Bruce
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Martian Dust Storm Grows Global

Post by bystander » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:08 pm

Martian Dust Storm Grows Global
Curiosity Captures Photos of Thickening Dust

NASA | JPL-Caltech | MSL Curiosity | 2018 Jun 20

A storm of tiny dust particles has engulfed much of Mars over the last two weeks and prompted NASA's Opportunity rover to suspend science operations. But across the planet, NASA's Curiosity rover, which has been studying Martian soil at Gale Crater, is expected to remain largely unaffected by the dust. While Opportunity is powered by sunlight, which is blotted out by dust at its current location, Curiosity has a nuclear-powered battery that runs day and night.

The Martian dust storm has grown in size and is now officially a "planet-encircling" (or "global") dust event. ...

Opportunity Hunkers Down During Dust Storm
NASA | JPL-Caltech | MER Opportunity | 2018 Jun 20

As of Tuesday morning, June 19, the Martian dust storm had grown in size and was officially a "planet-encircling" (or "global") dust event. The storm has starkly increased dust at Gale Crater, where NASA's Curiosity rover is studying the storm's effects from the surface.

There still was no signal received from NASA's Opportunity rover, despite efforts to listen in case it's coming out of sleep during its fault window -- the period of time when it attempts to communicate. A recent analysis of the rover's long-term survivability in Mars' extreme cold suggests Opportunity's electronics and batteries can stay warm enough to function. Regardless, the project doesn't expect to hear back from Opportunity until the skies begin to clear over the rover. That doesn't stop them from listening for the rover every day.

The dust storm is comparable in scale to a similar storm observed by Viking I in 1977, but not as big as the 2007 storm that Opportunity previously weathered. But it's also different than the massive storms observed by Mariner 9 (1971-1972) and Mars Global Surveyor (2001). Those storms totally obscured the planet's surface, save for the peaks of Mars' tallest volcanoes. The current dust storm is more diffuse and patchy; it's anyone's guess how it will further develop, but it shows no sign of clearing.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor