Martian Dust Devil Seen from Above

Here’s a cool picture of a Martian dust devil, captured by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This little dust devil has nothing to do with the dust storm that’s currently ravaging the Red Planet. The image was captured about a month ago in the southern hemisphere, near Hellas Planitia during the Martian mid-afternoon.

Dust devils like this form when the temperature on the ground is much warmer than the air above. The hot air rises, and then in the right conditions, starts to twist into a vortex that sucks in more warm air. If the vortex can get strong enough, it’ll suck dust off the ground, and create a dust devil.

From this vantage point, the dust devil appears to be about 200 metres (660 feet) across, but it’s probably much smaller where it touches the surface of Mars. Seen from the ground, it would look like a dusty tornado reaching about 500 metres (1,600 feet) high.

Original Source: UA News Release