Watch the Mars dust storm transform the entire planet
Mars' face has completely changed thanks to a planet-engulfing dust storm that has been raging since June 20.
Jackson RyanFormer Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
As the planet-encircling dust storm rages on,
has released "before and after" video footage of the planet that shows how completely different it looks, now that it's covered in a fine brown haze.
The stunning Mars glow up (I'm calling it a glow up, it looks incredible!) comes courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI), strapped to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which maps the entire planet each day.
Although the planet looks chokingly thick with dust, once the dust settles it will "form a fine film" that is only as thick as a human hair is wide. But as the footage shows, the planet-engulfing storm rages on, lowering visibility and blocking light down on Mars surface. That's trouble for our little friend, the solar-powered Mars rover Opportunity, who we haven't heard from since June 12.
Speaking of opportunity, the storm provides NASA's scientists a chance to observe and understand Mars weather patterns and explore how these unusual storms come to swallow the planet. Global dust storms only happen every "six to eight years", giving NASA limited time to study them. Luckily for us, NASA's suite of orbiters and the Curiosity rover will be keeping an eye on things both on the ground and in the air until the dust settles.
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