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NASA aims to predict dust storms on Mars

New temperature studies have revealed storm patterns on the Red Planet.
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If NASA is going to send people to Mars, it needs to predict the planet's weather. You don't want to land in the middle of a ferocious storm that wipes out your entire mission. Thankfully, the space agency just took a step toward making that happen. It's now detecting patterns in large regional dust storms by studying high-altitude (16 miles) temperature data from its orbiters. As dusty air tends to be much hotter at those heights, it's easy to tell when a giant regional storm is flaring up -- you just look for hot patches and their effects on the wind.

There's still a lot more to understand at this stage. Also, the findings don't apply to either local storms (which don't have much impact on the high Martian sky) or all-encompassing global storms. If NASA can refine its techniques, though, it could tell future explorers both where to land and when to take cover.

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