A huge 800-plus-foot-wide dust devil swirls across the parched plains of Mars in this image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera. Heading westward when the image was taken, it casts a tall diffuse shadow toward the northeast.
This photo is part of a study of the knobby surface texture of the region in the northern part of the planet. Since warm surface temperatures are needed to create dust devils – rotating updrafts of air rising quickly from heated ground – the discovery of such a large one this early in the season was a surprise to researchers. At these latitudes the devils usually form only in late summer.
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona