On August 30th, 2023, on the 899th Martian day (sol 899) of its mission, NASA’s Perseverance rover spotted a dust devil while exploring the Jezero Crater. The images taken by one of the rover’s Navigation Cameras (NavCams) were used to make a video (shown below), which is composed of 21 frames taken four seconds apart and sped up 20 times. Similar to small, short-lived whirlwinds on Earth, these vertical columns of wind form when pockets of hot air near the surface rise quickly through cooler air above it. By studying them, scientists hope to learn more about Mars’ atmosphere and improve their weather models.Continue reading “Perseverance Watches a Dust Devil Whirl Past”
NASA recently used its powerful High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to take a breathtaking image of a dust devil traversing Syria Planum on Mars. One unique aspect of dust devils is their shadows can be used to estimate their height, which have been estimated to reach 20 km (12 miles) into the Martian sky. Studying dust devils on Mars is a regular occurrence for the scientific community and can help scientists better understand surface processes on other planets. But with the atmospheric pressure on Mars being only a fraction of Earth’s, what processes are responsible for producing dust devils?Continue reading “NASA’s HiRISE Camera Recently Imaged a Martian Dust Devil. But Why Study Them?”
For years, we’ve seen images from various Mars rovers and landers of dust devils churning across the dusty landscape of the Red Planet. But now, thanks to a microphone on the Perseverance rover and a whirling dust storm that passed directly over the rover, we know what a dust devil on Mars sounds like, too.Continue reading “Perseverance Heard a Dust Devil on Mars, and Now You Can Too”
While the Mars InSight lander is still waiting for a passing dust devil to clean off its solar panels, it appears the Perseverance rover sees dust devils several times a day.
A new paper detailing the first 216 days of Perseverance’s mission in Jezero Crater reports how the newest rover on Mars appears to be located in a “dust storm track” that runs north to south across the planet. Jezero Crater has particularly high levels of dust and wind activity.Continue reading “Perseverance is Seeing A LOT of Dust Devils”
Dust devils are generally used as a trope in media when the writers want to know that an area is deserted. They signify the desolation and isolation that those places represent. Almost none of the settings of those stories are close to the isolation of Perseverance, the Mars rover that landed on the planet earlier this year. Fittingly, the number of dust devils Perseverance has detected is also extremely high – over 300 in its first three months on the planet.Continue reading “Perseverance has Already Detected Over 300 Dust Devils and Vortices on Mars”
We live in a time when our spacecraft orbiting Mars at an altitude of about 300 km. can snap photos of a dust devil and transmit them back to us so we can share them on the internet. Not only that, but we have rovers wandering around on the surface taking pictures of the dust storms, too. Big deal, you say? So what, you say?
You’re dead inside.Continue reading “This is a Dust Devil… on Mars”