sciencehabit writes: Two years ago, a global dust storm veiled Mars. But although the storm took a toll, killing off NASA’s Opportunity rover, it also revealed that such storms play an important role in how the once-wet planet loses its water. In 2014, looking back at data from 2007, scientists noticed that the fluorescent fog of hydrogen in the martian upper atmosphere faded as the southern hemisphere’s summer ended and a previous global dust storm subsided. The only plausible source for that hydrogen was water. Subsequent observations have indicated that water, buoyed by storms, can reach much higher in the atmosphere than previously thought — all the way to the ionosphere, a new paper reports. This allows charged particles to directly break the water apart, and it is likely the primary method of water loss on the planet today.

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