Mars dust storms emit water into space, NASA study says

Dust storms on Mars, which emit water from the planet’s atmosphere, play a major role in turning the world into a dry world today. NASA researchers Have found.

Scientists have long believed that this is due to the slow, stable process of dissociating water molecules in the lower layers of the atmosphere.

NASA’s Mars rover ‘Curiosity’ file during the massive dust storm that covered the Red Planet in 2018. (EPA / AAP)

Their studies revealed a seasonal pattern – there was more water in the upper atmosphere when Mars was very close to the sun or when there was a big dust storm.

Atmospheric warming caused by those events allows more water to float in the air of the Red Planet.

“It really is a smile on the face,” said University of Arizona researcher Shane Stone.

“The global dust storm stands alone in data like nothing else.”

A dust storm collects on the surface of Mars. (NASA)

During global dust storms, up to 20 times as much water can be carried into the upper atmosphere.

Over the past billion years, researchers have calculated that the upper atmosphere of Mars may have expelled enough water to cover the planet’s surface in a liquid layer at a depth of 61cm.

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“Mars must have lost the equivalent of a global ocean tooth hundreds of meters deep in its entire history,” Dr. Stone said.

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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Wayne Ma is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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