Introduction: The Great Storms of 2001
The 2001 Great Dust Storms - Tharsis Region - image from NASA Photojournal
widely known as the
of war, he also served less famously as the god of fertility,
growth, and death - spanning the entire life cycle here
on Earth. One of the more fascinating phenomenon associated
the planet is an analogous cycle involving
the onset, evolution, and cessation of giant (often global)
wind storms which periodically enshroud the planet in a blanket
of dust, dramatically altering the characteristics of both the
atmosphere and surface.
With the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) in orbit around the Red Planet, the Great Dust Storms of 2001 have provided an excellent opportunity to study the dynamics of these storms and expand our understanding of how they form and develop.
Preliminary analyses of images from this most recent global event show many similarities to previously observed storms, including origination in the southern hemisphere subtropical zone, the coalescence of several regional storms, and the eastward zonal expansion of dust injected into the circumpolar jet stream prior to the globalization of the storm.
Telescope temperatures (click to enlarge)
Despite these confirmations, the 2001 event exhibited some unexpected characteristics which had not been previously observed. Although the storm originated in typical fashion, starting in mid-June with a local storm that circulated in and around Hellas Basin for several days, it unexpectedly expanded northward on June 25 across the equator and into Arabia Terra and other areas, spawning several new regional storms (see movie below, from ASU TES site).
Martian Dust Storm begins
Additional 2001 storm image links:
ASU TES Dust Storm Movies
TES daily images - June 17 - August 26, 2001
Hubble before & after images
Hubble before, during, & after images
MOC-MOLA map (created for National Geographic)
Clickable USGS map (with labeled regions)
Other names for Mars
The Life Cycle of Martian Dust Storms
Planetary Atmospheres Final Project
by Than Putzig
May 6, 2002