Springtime North Polar Dust Storms
March 19, 2003
As on the Earth, many severe storms brew in the martian polar regions. Here, temperature contrasts between the cold carbon dioxide ("dry ice") seasonal frost cap and the warm ground adjacent to it--combined with a flow of cool polar air evaporating off the cap--sweeps up dust and funnels it into swirling dust storms along the cap edge. The dust storms shown here were observed during the recent northern spring by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) in May 2002. The picture is a mosaic of daily global images from the MOC wide angle cameras. The north polar cap is the bright, frosty surface at the top.