I love Martian dust devils. Really. I do. Don’t know why, really… they’re just cool – in a decidedly alien sort of way. Yeah, yeah, we have plenty of them on Earth, but, well, these are on Mars. They act kind of weird. So there.

In case you have never seen any, here is a nice video of a whole bunch of them. Just 8 seconds and… Just delightful! To get the proper impact flowing through your synapses, you really should watch this in full screen. Note their size. You’ll need this spectacle lodged firmly in your head to fully dig the upcoming video.

Uploaded by on Dec 30, 2007

Dust devils on Mars sweep past the NASA rover Spirit. Movie sequence made by MERDAT. Sorry about the Chinese date tag, I am currently working on including other language capabilities in the programs image tagging function. Still image data courtesy NASA/PDS.

Okay… now that you are well-grounded in the visual coolness of dust devils on our dear Mars… get a load of this:

This next one is remarkable and quite seriously stunning.

I have never seen one this big! This ‘video’ is just a HiRISE image so we can’t see it’s true power and beauty, but after checking the video above, you will most likely get what I’m driving at here. It must be just intense to watch! Apologies in advance for the silly robovoice, maybe this tuber doesn’t have a mic.

Uploaded by on Mar 7, 2012

The Serpent Dust Devil of Mars
A towering dust devil casts a serpentine shadow over the Martian surface in this stunning, late springtime image of Amazonis Planitia.
http://www.uahirise.org/images/2012/details/cut/ESP_026051_2160-2.jpg

The length of the shadow indicates that the dust plume reaches more than 800 meters, or half a mile, in height. The tail of the plume does not trace the path of the dust devil, which had been following a steady course towards the southeast and left a bright track behind it.

The delicate arc in the plume was produced by a westerly breeze at about a 250-meter height that blew the top of the plume towards the east. The westerly winds and the draw of warmth to the south combine to guide dust devils along southeast trending paths, as indicated by the tracks of many previous dust-devils. The dust plume itself is about 30 meters in diameter.

Numerous bright tracks trend from northwest to southeast. It is interesting to see that these tracks are bright, whereas dust-devil tracks elsewhere on Mars are usually dark. Dark tracks are believed to form where bright dust is lifted from the surface by dust devils, revealing a darker substrate.
http://www.uahirise.org/images/2012/details/cut/ESP_026051_2160-1.jpg

Here in Amazonis, the dust cover is too thick to be penetrated by such scouring. A blanket of bright dust was deposited over this region recently, just before the arrival of MRO, so the surface dust here can still be moved. Perhaps the bright tracks form when the settled dust is stirred up by the strong winds generated by the dust devils (tangential wind speeds of up to 70 miles per hour have been recorded in HiRISE images of other dust devils).

It’s also interesting that this image was taken during the time of year when Mars is farthest from the Sun. Just as on Earth, Martian winds are powered by solar heating. Exposure to the sun’s rays should be at a minimum during this season, yet even now, dust devils act relentlessly to clean the surface of freshly deposited dust, a little at a time.

Written by: Paul Geissler (7 March 2012)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_025985_2160.
http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_025985_2160

– Credit HiRISE – NASA/JPL/University of Arizona –

Link – http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_026051_2160

Nice, huh?

Peace.

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