Venus has a general retrograde wind direction, and a few days of measurements from the InSight lander so far suggest steady winds from the north-west, but are there any measurements that indicate Mars has a general, prevailing, or predominant wind direction? Maybe observations of clouds, or doppler radar somehow?


Explanation of the flags on the data points in this answer. From https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/weather/

Of Wind and Dust Devils on Mars

From Of Wind and Dust Devils on Mars

An annotated image of the surface of Mars, taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on May 30, 2014. The contrast has been enhanced in this image to better show the region where InSight landed on Nov. 26, 2018. The labels show the approximate position of NASA’s InSight lander in Elysium Planitia. Overlaid on top are the direction of the vibrations detected by InSight’s science instruments. The diagonal lines, faintly seen moving from upper left corner to the lower right corner of the image, show the paths of dust devils on the Martian surface. The vibrations recorded by InSight line up with the direction of the dust devil motion.

Direction of dust devils isn't necessarily a slam-dunk for the direction of a "prevailing wind" but it might be suggestive.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ if it's anything like Earth, prevailing wind direction will depend on latitude, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_wind_patterns $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes Is Mars anything like Earth? 1% of the atmosphere, 0% of the oceans, 0.01% of the cloud cover, 0.01% of the atmospheric moisture... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ Big differences, but similar rotation period, and similar axis tilt (which are major factor in Earth's global wind patterns). Just saying InSight's weather may not be extrapolatable to the rest of the planet. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes I wouldn't think that it would, thus "...but are there any measurements that indicate Mars has a general, prevailing, or predominant wind direction?" There may not be any; in fact I can't see how it could be done. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ Do we have enough measurement data of Marsian wind direction and velocity? There are very few surface measurement points. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


No. Mars has complex weather. Just the observation of unpredictable global dust storms shows that there is no persistent weather structure anywhere on Mars. Our global climate models of Mars show significant variability all over the planet in response to orbit and tilt, and variations in dust transport.

As a local example, I recall wind studies we did to see if a Valles Marineris landing site could be viable. What the models showed at the season of our landing were 100 mph winds going one way down the canyon in the morning, and 100 mph winds going in the opposite direction in the afternoon. There was a calm period in the middle of the day, but the high winds, combined with the uncertainty in the models of when exactly that calm might be, crossed that site off the list.

  • $\begingroup$ While atmospheric water has a major impact on Earth weather, it seems that it's counterpart on Mars is dust. Dust is kicked up by wind and then can help heat the atmosphere by absorbing sunlight, affecting the wind. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ 1, 2 $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ So as a result, is the Valles Mariners viable for a crewed landing or not? On Earth, I'd say 100 mph wouldn't make it viable, but in Mars' thinner atmosphere and different gravity? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 6:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sure. A crewed Mars landing would be propulsive with very good control and authority, and would easily compensate for such winds. The Mars Exploration Rovers descended on parachutes almost to the end, which were very coarsely controlled impacts on airbags. That made that particular system sensitive to wind. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 7:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.