NMSU student to study dust storms on Mars

Jul 24, 2012

A New Mexico State University student has been awarded a fellowship to study dust storms on Mars.

Robert Edmonds is the second graduate student in the school's Department of Astronomy to receive NASA's Earth and Space Science Fellowship. The $30,000 NASA fellowship can be renewed for up to three years.

Edmonds will study connections between atmospheric gravity waves and dust storms. The waves convey momentum from low to high altitudes on Earth, causing shifts in wind speed and atmospheric turbulence.

Edmonds says the same thing happens on Mars, even though the planet has a thinner atmosphere.

Edmonds' adviser, Jim Murphy, says learning whether the waves play a direct or indirect role in dust storms could help forecast the storms on Mars. Murphy says that's useful for spacecraft mission planning.