To the editor:
In the letter section of May’s Catholic Courier, Doug Beecher asks: “Why do you think the planet Mars is warming at the same rate (as the Earth)?”
Indeed, the Viking mission of the ’70s and the Mars Global Surveyor mission that was lost just this fall have demonstrated that global warming is taking place on Mars. Mars Global Surveyor has even measured the melting of the southern polar ice cap.
Based on current evidence, planetary scientists writing in the April 5 issue of Naturereport that the surface of Mars is getting darker, and we all know that in the sun dark colors get hotter than lighter colors. We experience this effect with asphalt in the summer. The three scientists also show that the darkening has increased wind speeds and the number of dust devils. Resembling miniature tornadoes, dust devils remove a thin layer of bright dust that covers underlying dark volcanic rocks. So the planet’s darkening is due to the bright dust being blown away.
As the planet gets darker, it warms up causing more wind; consequently more dust is removed resulting in still more wind, darkening and heating.
These Martian dust devils have proved to be a blessing for the two active Rovers on Mars; dust devils have repeatedly cleaned the robot’s solar panels. Instead of lasting a mere three months, they continue exploring after years.
Jim J. Secosky
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Secosky identified himself as a retired science teacher.