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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Hubble Photos Reveal Texas-Sized Dust Storm at Martian North Pole

November 07, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

Images of Mars, above, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on Sept. 18 and Oct. 15 show a Texas-sized dust storm swirling around the receding icecap at the planet's north pole. In the October photos, the salmon-colored storm, originally about 600 miles across, had broken up into a comma-shaped streak across the ice patch.

Researchers said the storm might have been caused by large temperature differences between the polar ice and warmer regions to the south, which are being heated by the Martian spring. Temperatures are not warm enough to melt the ice, however; instead, the ice sublimes--goes from a solid to a gas--and the polar cap shrinks.

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