Martian dust storm: Could it happen here?

These images of mars released by NASA 11 October, 2001 show the planet in natural color, as captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The two dramatically different faces of the Red Planet appear in these comparison images showing how a global dust storm engulfed Mars with the onset of Martian spring in the Southern Hemisphere. When NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope imaged Mars in June (L), the seeds of the storm were caught brewing in the giant Hellas Basin (oval at 4 o’clock position on disk) and in another storm at the northern polar cap. When Hubble photographed Mars in early September (R), the storm had already been raging across the planet for nearly two months obscuring all surface features. AFP PHOTO/ NASA

NASA is reporting a giant dust storm in the Southern Hemisphere of Mars and national media are covering the story. Such storms are not unusual, but the question now is whether the storm will assume global proportions as happened in 2001.

Rich Zurek, chief Mars scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge said this week, “One thing we want to learn is why do some Martian dust storms get to this size and stop growing, while others this size keep growing and go global.”

Why, indeed. The story comes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation and a renewed focus on global warming here on Earth. If the heat and droughts we are now seeing continue to worsen, could we someday see a global dust shroud?

7 thoughts on “Martian dust storm: Could it happen here?

    1. Yeah, wish I hadn’t had it. I’m old enough to have seen a few remnants of Dust Bowl era dust storms when I was a kid. A Martian-like dust shroud lasting for months would be … not nice.

      1. Oh yeah, I saw “Black Blizzard” on the History channel awhile back, and more recently, “The Dust Bowl” on PBS. I am so glad I didn’t have to go through that! 😐

... and that's my two cents