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Nasa monitors massive dust storm on Mars

Published on Nov 27, 2012 6:04 AM
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This NASA panorama image released Nov 26, 2012 shows a mosaic of images taken by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on the NASA Mars rover Curiosity while the rover was working at a site called "Rocknest" in Oct and Nov 2012. -- PHOTO : AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US space agency says it is monitoring a massive dust storm on Mars that has produced atmospheric changes.

It's the first time since the 1970s that Nasa is studying such a phenomenon both from orbit and with a weather station on the surface, Nasa said on its website.

"This is now a regional dust storm," said Mr Rich Zurek, chief Mars scientist at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "It has covered a fairly extensive region with its dust haze, and it is in a part of the planet where some regional storms in the past have grown into global dust hazes." Regional dust storms expanded and affected vast areas of the Red Planet in 2001 and 2007.

"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," said Mr Zurek.

 
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