Little Devil


Spirit Captures a Dust Devil

Spirit Captures a Dust Devil

What looks to be a swirling dust devil is caught on camera in this raw image from the Mars rover Spirit.

Dust devils on Mars are common, caused by heated air near the surface rising rapidly upwards in spinning columns, picking up dust and sand and propelled by the Martian winds. Although relatively gusty by speed measurements, even high winds on Mars would barely be felt by humans because of the low air density. Still, these dust devils carve their twisting tracks across the dunes and have even come in handy as very competent cleaners of the rovers’ solar panels, on occasion.

This dramatic animation below, from 2006, shows several dust devils zipping past Spirit. (Click to play).

Dust Devil Swarm

Dust Devil Swarm

Images like these remind us that, although geologically quiet, the air on Mars is very much alive with activity!

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on March 25, 2009, in Mars and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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