From Dan Garisto at ScienceNews:
Storms of powdery Martian soil are contributing to the loss of the planet’s remaining water.
This newly proposed mechanism for water loss, reported January 22 in Nature Astronomy, might also hint at how Mars originally became dehydrated. Researchers used over a decade of imaging data taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to investigate the composition of the Red Planet’s frequent dust storms, some of which are vast enough to circle the planet for months.
During one massive dust storm in 2006 and 2007, signs of water vapor were found at unusually high altitudes in the atmosphere, nearly 80 kilometers up. That water vapor rose within “rocket dust storms” — storms with rapid vertical movement — on convection currents similar to those in some storm clouds on Earth, says study coauthor Nicholas Heavens, an astronomer at Hampton University in Virginia. More.
It’s apparently not nearly as easy for life to get started or stay started as some claim. Stuff always seems to be happening to prevent it. We can’t just throw probability into the mix and say, if there are millions of planets, it’s gotta click in lots of places. How many of those planets are Earths and how many are Mars’s?
See also: Mars soil toxic to life?
Life on Mars: New focus on deciding where to look
Researchers: Life could only exist on Mars far beneath surface
Was life found on Mars 40 years ago?
Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!