More reports on: Space missions

NASA orbiters uncover dust storm seasons on Mars

14 June 2016

After nearly two decades of work, NASA's Red Planet orbiters had determined three distinct annual patterns for dust storms that brought about great weather shifts.

At about the same time each Martian year, or approximately two earth years, large areas of Mars are covered by dust-storms. Thanks to observations and temperature records over six recent Martian years, it had become easier to predict the formation of those dust storms than when they were merely observed in images.

''When we look at the temperature structure instead of the visible dust, we finally see some regularity in the large dust storms,'' said David Kass of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US, reported. ''Recognising a pattern in the occurrence of regional dust storms is a step toward understanding the fundamental atmospheric properties controlling them.''

Temperature records from six recent Martian years showed up three types of patterns of large regional dust storms occurring in sequence at about the same times each year during the southern hemisphere spring and summer.

A dustier atmosphere meant warmer weather, sometimes a lot warmer and with the sun heating up the dust, it could raise temperatures by up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). Wind too played a role, outside the dust storms as well, meaning that the planet's temperature records revealed both the direct and indirect impacts of the weather cycles.

Meanwhile, a clip of the surface of the Red Planet released by NASA showed an object resembling a giant skull resting on the surface.

The discovery is being hailed as long-awaited proof of alien life by UFO enthusiasts. The video comes from NASA's Curiosity Rover 4WD space probe.

YouTube channel Paranormal Crucible, which had often been accused of "misinterpreting objects" in NASA images after editing them with so-called colourisation techniques, had released a video entitled "Alien or Sasquatch Skull Found On Mars".

Alien and bigfoot (also called Sasquatch) sightings had been linked in the past, and many close encounter survivors had claimed to have seen a mysterious craft shortly before a sasquatch emerges. Bigfoot refers to a mythological simian, ape, or humanoid-like creature that is said to live in the forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest.

A blurb for the video released this week said: "Strange artefact found by the rover, appears to resemble a large skull, obviously alien in nature, could it be the remains of a sasquatch or a bizarre Martian creature?"

The video shows an object that is slightly off colour to the rest of the yellowish scene and highlights it with lighter colours to try to sharpen the image, a technique critics of the channel said was misrepresentation.

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