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Friday, April 22, 2011

The Red Dust Bowl: Scientists reveal how hostile storms once raged across Mars - 22nd Apr 2011

Mars once had an atmosphere so dusty and stormy that its climate was a lot like the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but far worse, according to scientists.

The discovery of a huge underground reservoir of dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, at its south pole has forced a reassessment of the Red Planet's climate history.

Researchers suspect some of that store of carbon dioxide was in Mars' atmosphere around 600,000 years ago, making it denser, and therefore an extremely hostile environment.

Lead researcher Roger Phillips, of the Southwest Research Institute, said: 'It was an unpleasant place to hang out.'

In the recent geologic past, when Mars' axis tilted, sunlight reached the southern polar cap, melting some of the frozen carbon dioxide. Read More