A Cloudy Day on Mars The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter makes a daily, global map of the Red Planet’s surface and weather. Here, thick water ice clouds cling to towering volcanic summits on June 5, 2012. NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems/Bill Dunford

Weather Report: Mars

Posted By Bill Dunford
2013/01/28 10:00 CST

When I was a teenager I got a letter from Carl Sagan. (Ok, it was a form letter, but I was still impressed.) He was starting a new space advocacy project called The Planetary Society, he said, and did I want to become a charter member? I did. Voyager was stunning the world with its tour of the outer planets back then, but there was no Internet, and detailed news about planetary exploration was slow and scant if you weren’t a scientist. I devoured information from Planetary Society publications, and was grateful for it.

I would have been blown away by what we have now: dozens of robotic missions pushing back frontiers from Mercury to Pluto—and the ability to ride along in real time. I’ve been doing just that for the past several years, and logging the most interesting things I see at a site called Riding with Robots on the High Frontier. But you know what? Despite, no because of the space information torrent we have now, The Planetary Society is more relevant than ever, with Emily Lakdawalla’s accessible-yet-authoritative dispatches and the Society’s ceaseless campaigns in support of space science in general and specific, bold projects.

That’s why I couldn’t be more excited to join the ranks of guest bloggers on this site, many of whom are heroes of mine, and to get to share a few notes from the trail while riding along with the space robots.

The first stop is Mars, synonymous with mystery and alienness. And yet…there is often something about it that reminds of home. One thing Mars shares with Earth is weather: not just wind and dust storms, but clouds that come and go with the seasons.

Read more: Weather Report: Mars | The Planetary Society.

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