Call off your Mars vacation.
October 11, 2001 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Call off your Mars vacation. A giant dust storm, brewing since June, has engulfed the entire planet.
posted by kittyloop (10 comments total)
The picture is available from the Hubble observations page. There's also a great headline for what sounds to be a catastrophe of galactic proportions -"Ancient Black Hole Speeds Through Sun's Galactic Neighborhood, Devouring Companion Star" - Whoa... and we thought the situation was bad down here.
posted by markbos at 3:36 PM on October 11, 2001

damned bin laden!
posted by quonsar at 3:45 PM on October 11, 2001

I will never complain about the weather again.
posted by moss at 3:46 PM on October 11, 2001

maybe the mars lander hit the entrance to a place like in the "i can't believe i wasted the time and money to watch that movie" hit Mission to Mars?
posted by th3ph17 at 4:00 PM on October 11, 2001

makes me think of some crucial parts in Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, you know, where the people get stuck in the dust storm...
posted by billder at 4:14 PM on October 11, 2001

Is it because Earth's atmosphere is more chaotic and dynamic than Mars' that this doesn't happen here, or less? I guess the water/land division and steep temperature/moisture levels associated with that break up large systems before they can approach anything like global scale. I understand (simplistically) how pressure systems work to create weather here on earth, and how solar energy keeps it all moving, but how does it work on a planet with so little atmosphere and such a homogenous (relatively) surface? Perhaps I should go into extraterrestrial meteorology, it seems like a fascinating field.
posted by Nothing at 6:31 PM on October 11, 2001

Just did some quick searching around. here is a short explanation of Mars weather data gathered so far and the patterns they show. I didn't find any clear explanation for these global dust storm events in linkable form, but the basic cause is, apparently, a runaway chain reaction of dust in the atmosphere causing it to heat, causing wind, causing more dust in the atmosphere, and so on. With no oceans to break up the storms, they just keep getting bigger until Mars's orbit takes it further from the sun and the heating of the dust is lessened.
posted by Nothing at 6:41 PM on October 11, 2001

Man, how come nothing crazy like that ever happens on this planet?

(the above was a sarcastic remark in reference to the insane events of the past month)
posted by kingmissile at 7:25 PM on October 11, 2001

There might not be duststorms of that size on Earth because we have grasses. There can be nasty sand-storms, but the size of the desert doesn't stretch far enough to allow the storm to keep going without stopping.
posted by stoneegg21 at 9:40 PM on October 11, 2001

Wouldnt this put a cramp on anyones ideas of colonizing Mars? 80mph winds hurling flower-grained dust for 2 or more months blocking out sunlight (eg. solar power). Granted it does warm things up from -60 to -20 which is nice.
posted by stbalbach at 5:07 AM on October 12, 2001

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