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Planet-wide Mars Dust Storm
October 15, 2001

Amazed scientists have a ringside seat to the biggest global dust storm seen on Mars in several decades, thanks to the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Hubble Space Telescope.

The Martian dust storm, larger by far than any seen on Earth, has raised a cloud of dust that has engulfed the entire planet for the past three months.

"What we have learned is that this is not a single, continuing storm, but rather a planet-wide series of events that were triggered in and around the Hellas basin," said Mike Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, Inc., San Diego. "What began as a local event stimulated separate storms many thousands of kilometers away. We saw the effects propagate very rapidly across the equator—something quite unheard of in previous experience—and move with the Southern Hemisphere jet stream to the east."

This storm is being closely watched by the team operating NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which is heading toward a rendezvous with the Red Planet later this month.

image: NASA, James Bell (Cornell Univ.), Michael Wolff (Space Science Inst.), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)






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