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Local Dust Storms Dry Out Mars

Credits

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
 
Video imagery:
· Mars, 2016: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)
· Mars surface with dust tower: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak, Joseph Olmsted
Science review: Dr. Emma Marcucci
Education review: Jim Manning
Music from Music for Non-Profits
Transcript

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Text, News From the Universe
 
August 26, 2021. Local dust storms dry out Mars
 
A rare convergence of three spacecraft at Mars jointly monitored a regional storm in the southern hemisphere.
 
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and MAVEN, with ESA's Trace Gas Orbiter, found small storms make a big difference in the planet's water loss.
 
Scientists expected dust storms played a role in drying out the planet, but thought the big global storms were the culprit.
 
Regional dust storms warm the atmosphere, allowing water vapor to rise rather than freeze.
 
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Higher up, ultraviolet radiation breaks water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.
 
Once the less-heavy hydrogen is lost to space, the oxygen cannot recombine with it to make water.
 
This news was brought to you in part by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD