The Devil’s Shadow

The 800-meter-tall plume of a dust devil casts a long shadow on the surface of Mars in this image from the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Caused by warm air near the ground rapidly rising in spinning columns, dust devils are a common sight on Mars during the northern spring season. Read more…

Beautiful Barchans

Barchan sand dunes in Mars’ Arkhangelsky Crater This image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera features a barchan dune within the floor of Arkhangelsky Crater on Mars, one of its forward-facing “horns” displaying a sharp, serpentine ridge. The dunes in Arkhangelsky Crater are made of darker-colored material than the surrounding landscape, although the image…

Ditches, Devils and Dunes

  There’s a lot going on in this image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera…swirling dust devil tracks paint dark streaks over the sand dunes within Russell Crater (click here for a larger view of the region) while long “peculiar” ditches run snakelike down the crater’s sloped walls. Click the image above for a…

When the Wind Blows

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…

Devils’ Causeways

Like a child’s random scribblings, the tracks of countless dust devils trace dark swirls across the surface of Mars in a region called Russell Crater. Dust devils – caused by surface air heated during the day rising upwards in spinning columns – are extremely common on Mars and pick up the thin Martian sand easily,…

Devil in the Skies

  Spirit captures a dust devil in the distance on camera in this image from a few days ago. I colorized it to enhance detail (and make it a little more “Mars-y”) from the original raw file. Dust devils are common this time of year at Spirit’s location. They are cause by warmer air near…

Little 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…