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This Week’s WITU Challenge

Where in the Universe 66
I’m a day late (sorry!) but here’s this week’s image for the Where In The Universe Challenge, to test your visual knowledge of the cosmos. You know what to do: take a look at this image and see if you can determine where in the universe this image is from; give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the image. We’ll provide the image today, but won’t reveal the answer until tomorrow. This gives you a chance to mull over the image and provide your answer/guess in the comment section. Please, no links or extensive explanations of what you think this is — give everyone the chance to guess.

UPDATE: The answer has now been posted below.

This is a dust devil on Mars, captured by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The white mass is a swirling vortex of dust, and the darker line is a shadow cast by this swirling column of dust. This image is from some of the newest releases by HiRISE, see them all here. Find out more about this particular image here.

Check back next week for another WITU challenge!


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • StarSpace August 13, 2009, 11:30 AM

    Placed this image in our StarSpace site today… rest of the latest HiRISE images are wonderful too.

  • Jorge August 13, 2009, 7:21 AM

    Mars, shot by the HiRISE camera aboard the MRO. The white stuff is a dust devil.

  • Lawrence B. Crowell August 13, 2009, 7:49 AM

    I second this estimate. To elaborate on this there is a white dust on the surface and what appears to be a dark trail towards the top of the picture. The dust devil appears to be picking up frost on the martian surface.


  • Manu August 13, 2009, 8:03 AM

    The Face on Mars, in winter.

  • Nereid August 13, 2009, 8:20 AM

    Mars, possibly a dust devil track; no clue as to the spacecraft/instrument that obtained the image.

  • SteveG August 13, 2009, 10:09 AM


  • Dave Finton August 13, 2009, 10:09 AM

    First thought I came up with was a dust devil on Mars. The “track” appears to be a shadow, however. And yes, I’m going with the high-resolution camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, too.

  • Jon Hanford August 13, 2009, 11:38 AM

    Careful, this could be ‘magnetic tornado’ imaged by HiRise, but classified due to its ‘shocking nature’ :)

  • Nephish777 August 13, 2009, 11:42 AM

    Close up of a Mars rock. Looks like there are “blue berries” in the picture. One of the Mars rovers.

  • Spoodle58 August 13, 2009, 11:46 AM

    Dust Devil, Mars, MRO

  • Roen August 13, 2009, 5:20 PM

    A minor mountain in or near the Melas Chasma region on Mars. Image by HiRise.

  • boazamr August 13, 2009, 6:22 PM

    Face on Mars

  • Kestutis August 14, 2009, 1:28 AM

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
    Image by HiRise.

  • Bhavya M. August 14, 2009, 2:13 AM

    surface of MARS. the white region is a part of the ice on the top surface of Mars.

  • astro12345 August 14, 2009, 2:48 AM

    This telescopic view from orbit around Mars catches a Martian dust devil in action in the planet’s southern hemisphere. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

  • ROCA August 14, 2009, 6:09 AM

    Dust Devils of Mars
    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
    University of Arizona

  • neoguru August 14, 2009, 9:27 AM

    Gotta be Mars or Earth. I’ll go with Mars. Assuming it’s not a false color image it definitely looks like frost. I didn’t have a clue about the “shadow” on the left, but a dust devil makes good sense. The “frost” seems to extend to the right, perhaps dumped as the dust devil petered out?

  • clament August 15, 2009, 4:11 AM

    Ice on mars

  • omnivorr August 15, 2009, 9:27 PM

    Considering that the dunes are lit from a source located upper left.. it seems the dustdevil shadow is thrown to the lower right.. therefore, I surmise the darker track in the upper left is the track of the dustdevil, where it has scoured the lighter-coloured dust from the darker underlying surface. :)