A new study suggests lightning may be weak or nonexistent in Martian dust storms. Researchers vibrated basalt grains at various atmospheric pressures to test their ability to build up charge.
Lightning in a dust storm plays a role in my forthcoming book, Air: Generation Mars, Book One. Hard science fiction is a moving target. Still, the fictional strike in question is weak and only damaging to electrical equipment, so I think it’s plausible.
“This would be the first time any of the children saw the surface. The colonists had built underground, using existing caves and lava tubes where possible, building and burying structures where necessary. This was to protect themselves from solar and cosmic radiation. On Earth, the atmosphere and magnetic field serve this purpose. But Mars has little of either, so dirt and rock filled the role.”
– from Scratching the Surface: Generation Mars, Prelude
A new paper explores lava tubes in the Hellas Planitia as possible habitats for humans.
This is incredibly cool. Sean Doran has used imagery from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and ESA’s Mars Express to create a massive image of the landscape Curiosity has traveled through. The detail here is astonishing.
MSL Traverse map v1.0
1.8 billion pixels 09x HiRISE DTM’s
Oxygen levels above Gale Crater appear to fluctuate seasonally and scientists don’t yet know why.
For some time now, I’ve been puzzling over where to place Dawn Colony on the surface of Mars. Here is the description of the landscape around the colony from Scratching the Surface: Continue reading “Where on Mars?”
Insight picks up the first quake on a celestial body other than Earth or the Moon.
A while back I posted about how the writing of science fiction is a race with the progress of science. Here’s a perfect example: where is Dawn Colony? I’ve been hesitant to place it at a specific location on Mars because the more specific I get, the more likely it is I’ll be wrong. Perhaps they live near the southern end of one of the study areas mentioned in this article.
I’m open to other suggestions.
Planetary Science Institute
Twice each day, something strange happens to the atmospheric pressure on Mars.