In Martian dust storms born lightning

Scientists have simulated the inner workings of lightning "jet dust storms" on Mars, which is a hundred times faster than regular storms and are bombarded with dust high into the atmosphere of the Red Planet.

Mars — very dry and dusty place. Storms sometimes cover the entire planet, and orbiters see as persistent dust layers reach great heights (30 º 50 km above the surface). The mechanism of the latter phenomenon is unclear.

High resolution model based on data from the instrument OMEGA, which is located on the satellite Mars Express, helped figure out how thick spherical pocket dust storms can be heated by the sun, causing rapidly grow warmer surrounding air. Since hot air rises, these sites are fired up like rocket launch. Hence the name of this type of vertical transport — "jet dust storms," coined by Aymeric Spiga and his colleagues at the Institute Pierre Simon Laplace (France).

Images of Mars, made apparatus Mars Global Surveyor, before, during and after the "jet dust storms."



Height of 30 × 40 km up dust in a matter of hours, developing a speed of 10 m / s. This is much faster than a typical convection velocity (0.1 m / s) during ordinary storms. Well, as the dust particles rub against each other, "reactive storm" could theoretically lead to a fantastic lightning.

On Earth, this is not possible — mainly because the Martian atmosphere is about a hundred times thinner than our own, that is, absorbing sunlight, there the dust is heated quickly and efficiently radiate. But some analog still there: large clusters of water droplets in the gray of storm clouds, lightning release latent heat, causing strong vertical movement and forming a huge, high education, which are called cumulonimbus clouds.

The study is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

Prepared according to Wired.

Category: Space

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