December 4, 2023

NASA spacecraft discovers giant dust devil on Mars – video showing the encounter

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Mars is windy and dusty, as NASA’s Perseverance spacecraft has once again discovered. The rover is photographing a special phenomenon on Mars.

PASADENA – Anyone who assumes that only NASA’s two rovers are on Mars is wrong. In fact, strong winds cause constant movement on the surface of Mars – although no extraterrestrial life has been discovered yet. Winds on Mars become especially visible when they create what is known as a “dust devil.”

A “dust devil” is a vortex of air that can also occur on our planet; Experts call this phenomenon a “micro-clot.” But back to Mars: There, NASA’s Perseverance rover photographed a dust devil sweeping across the red planet. It was likely formed by mixing a warm, rising air cell with a cold, descending air cell. Dust devils can grow larger on Mars than on Earth. NASA saidwhich posted the vehicle’s observation on its website.

NASA photographs a giant dust devil on Mars

The dust devil observed and recorded by the Mars rover Perseverance can only be partially seen in the video. “We don’t see the top of the dust devil, but the shadow it casts gives us a good indication of its height,” explains Mark Lemon, a planetary scientist on the Perseverance team. NASA scientists calculated that the dust devil should be about 60 meters wide and 2 kilometers high.

The red planet Mars (artist's impression).
The red planet Mars (artist’s impression). © imago/magan

In the video recorded on August 30, 2023, it is moving at a speed of 19 kilometers per hour. NASA’s video shows only a short snippet of the dust devil’s motion, stitched together from 21 images taken at four-second intervals and sped up 20 times.

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NASA rovers search for dust devils on Mars

The main mission of the Perseverance rover is to search for evidence of past life on Mars. But for scientific reasons, both Perseverance and NASA’s second active rover, Curiosity, are on the lookout for dust devils. This is an important mechanism on the surface of Mars that moves and redistributes dust. Observing this phenomenon helps researchers better understand the Martian atmosphere and improve weather models.

NASA has already had positive experiences with dust devils. Air vortices repeatedly cleaned the solar panels of NASA’s Opportunity and Sojourner rovers from dust, extending their service life. According to NASA data, the Perseverance rover alone is visited by the dust devil several times a day. Last year, the spacecraft was able to record the sound of a dust devil on Mars for the first time. (unpaid bill)

Automated assistance was used in writing this article by the editorial team. The article was carefully examined by editor Tanya Banner before publication.

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