Exploratour - The Atmosphere of Mars

Springtime dust storms swirl at the Martian north pole. Picture take by Hubble Space Telescope in 1996.
Click on image for full size


We have presented the fact that the atmosphere of Mars is very thin with little water vapor with which to form clouds. And we looked at the temperature, the fact that it is very cold almost everywhere in the atmosphere. We will now take a look at whether there are clouds, storms, and winds in the next few pages of this tour.

Weather in the atmosphere occurs because the air is in constant motion. Clear weather occurs when the air is stable. Cloudy and murky weather occurs when the air is unstable. Some determining factors of bad weather are the temperature of the atmosphere, whether there is precipitation, whether storm fronts can travel, the occurrence of differing types of clouds, and wind. Extreme weather conditions include hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms. So far there is no evidence of severe weather on Mars, and little evidence of cloudy and murky weather patterns either.

Weather changes also occur due to changes in the season. Seasons occur because of the tilt of a planet when it revolves around the sun. The length of the Martian day (24 hours and 37 minutes) and the tilt of its axis (25 degrees) are similar to those on Earth (24 hours and 23.5 degrees), so its seasons should be similar to those of the Earth.

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