A regional dust storm currently swelling on Mars follows unusually closely on one that blossomed less than two weeks earlier and is now dissipating, as seen in daily global weather monitoring by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Images from the orbiter’s wide-angle Mars Color Imager (MARCI) show each storm growing in the Acidalia area of northern Mars, then blowing southward and exploding to sizes bigger than the United States after reaching the southern hemisphere.
That development path is a common pattern for generating regional dust storms during spring and summer in Mars’ southern hemisphere, where it is now mid-summer.
“What’s unusual is we’re seeing a second one so soon after the first one,” said Mars meteorologist Bruce Cantor of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, which built and operates MARCI. “We’ve had orbiters watching weather patterns on Mars continuously for nearly two decades now, and many patterns are getting predictable, but just when we think we have Mars figured out, it throws us another surprise.” [More at link]