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06.19.2008

The Perfect Weather Forecast

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Let's say you live in Miami. If Earth's weather were as predictable as Mars' weather, you could expect a hurricane similar in magnitude to hit Miami year after year, within about two weeks of the same date.

On Mars, similar cloud patterns and dust storms repeat at the same time of year give or take a couple of weeks. Typically, they occur at the same location each Mars-year. Scientists see these patterns in daily global images dating back to 1999.

While weather patterns are highly predictable, global dust events -- so far -- are not. As soon as the dust settles, the weather snaps back to its usual pattern.

The weather reports have helped spacecraft travel through the atmosphere of Mars. Examples are Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, both Mars Exploration Rovers, and Phoenix. Even so, no one yet has listed a job opening for a human weather broadcaster on Mars!

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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