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#1 2002-05-21 19:03:25

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Martian Dust Storms - Dangerous or not?

There seems to be a lot of conflicting viewpoints in the scientific community as to whether Martian dust storms pose a significant threat to probes and human landing parties.  Zubrin, for instance, writes that the Martian atmosphere is so thin the high winds don't really have the potential to be very dangerous (unless you parachut into them).  But I recently read an article here http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-dust-02a.html that brought up the point that these winds could build up an electrical charge and possibly fry any electronics on a lander.  Hopefully someone puts a lightning rod on the hab module just to be safe. smile


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#2 2002-05-22 15:33:59

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Martian Dust Storms - Dangerous or not?

Good question.  Seems to me that you'd definately want to protect things like solar cells which could be vulnerable to excessive scratching in Martian dust storms.  I also wonder if the dust ever gets so thick that it significantly reduces visibility.  God it would be miserable being sandblasted in conditions where you couldn't see in front of your face, especially if you happen to be a long distance from the hab module.


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#3 2002-05-29 06:52:41

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Martian Dust Storms - Dangerous or not?

I remember seeing pictures taken by the Viking cameras on the surface during dust storms. Visibilty was reduced but not alarmingly so. Admittedly the horizon was gone but I think visibility was still of the order of tens of metres (my estimate, for what it's worth).
   Being unburdened by any formal training in geology, I feel free to throw in my two cents worth about the form of the sand/dust being propelled around in the Martian air! Much of it, I suppose, has been around the planet several times. In the act of abrading the rocks and mesas, it too has probably been effectively abraded like beach sand here on Earth. I imagine it is probably well-rounded, having had most of the rough edges knocked off.
   Although even rounded particles, if propelled at hundreds of kilometres per hour, must eventually "sand-blast" and erode any material, I submit that the process will be a slow one. The glass lenses of the Viking cameras, subjected to many dust storms over the years they were operational on Mars, suffered no significant deterioration in image quality. This indicates to me that the lenses were not seriously affected by the dust.                                         
   I suspect the dust, though it will be a nuisance, will be found to be far less troublesome than has been suggested.
                                         smile


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