A dust devil on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona.

NASA’s Mars HiRISE Camera Captures Dust Devil in Action

NASA's HiRISE camera has provided a stunning glimpse into the dynamic environment of Mars, capturing a mesmerizing Martian dust devil in action. This remarkable imagery offers valuable insights into the planet's atmospheric processes and adds to our understanding of the Red Planet's ever-changing landscape.


The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) plays an indispensable role in exploring Mars. Launched by NASA, MRO has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2006, providing vital data about Mars’ atmosphere and terrain. Its high-resolution HiRISE camera, responsible for capturing numerous stunning photographs, is a testament to its significant contribution to our understanding of Martian weather patterns and surface features. The ongoing mission of the MRO continues to shed light on the intriguing and complex dynamics of Mars.

Now, NASA reports the Mars probe MRO’s high-resolution HiRISE camera captured an intriguing dust devil sweeping Syria Planum’s plains from orbit. The dust devil casts a shadow, offering a means to estimate its altitude.


Dust Devil Formation

The formation of dust swirls, eddies, or dust devils on MArs ands as observed by HiRISE over the years, shares similarities with Earthly phenomena. When the Sun heats the Martian ground, it warms the air above. The heated air, less dense, rises while the cooler air descends, instigating local convection. (Check out this incredible potograph of clouds on Mars.)

The interplay of Wind and Convection

In the presence of wind, these convection cells, driven by vertical air movement, can spin, giving birth to a dust devil, explains the University of Arizona’s HiRISE camera website.

Monitoring Martian Dust Eddies

Regions rich in dust with warm ground, like Syria Planum, are the primary focus for dust eddy monitoring. This observation intensifies during late spring and early summer when ground temperatures are expected to be high.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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