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What will weather on Mars be like in 300 years?

written by Alex Moore on September 15, 2000 | author profile | forum profile | contact me
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Weather on Mars.
Weather on Mars.
Credit: Unknown
Weather affects our lives every single day. Many of us take for granted that the Earth's vast weather system controls us in so many ways. For instance, whether or not it rains or snows on a particular day can determine how the rest of the day is scheduled. The same is true on Mars.

Of course, as of now there are no weather patterns on Mars. The atmosphere is too thin to hold moisture, and the air is too cold to have liquid water. Thus, Mars is a cold, dead, and barren planet that has not seen change for millions of years.

Although the fluctuation of weather is not well understood even on Earth, scientists wish to duplicate it on Mars. The evaporation, condensation, and precipitation of water will create not only rain, but snow, hail, and sleet, not to mention wind and clouds. Although wind and snow will be the first to follow the terraforming effort, this is the ultimate goal of some scientists. Snow will remain for several centuries, until global temperatures are brought above freezing for liquid rain, but planet-wide precipitation is essential for terraforming to continue.

But weather is much more than this. In fact, precipitation is merely a minor issue in the first decades on Mars. Dust storms frequently cover entire hemispheres, and no one is sure how instrumentation, not to mention people, could stand up to these conditions.

Mars is home to the largest and most elaborate land forms in the solar system. There's no telling how weather will act on these ancient wonders. Erosion has worn down land forms on earth, and will have similar effects on Mars. The future government may set up laws banning terraforming. If this happens, the entire human race could be put into jeopardy.

Our job is to learn Earth's vast weather patterns. Study them, and learn from them, and we will better understand them on Mars. But Mars is different, and although some aspects of weather will be the same, others will be totally different. As Kim Stanley Robinson best put it, "Mars will always remain Mars, different from earth, colder and wilder."

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