That's a Devil Devil … on Mars



We live in a time when our spaceship gravitated around 300 km from Mars. can take pictures of a dust demon and send them back to us so we can share them on the internet. Not only that, but we also have wandering rovers on the surface that also take pictures of dust storms. A big deal, you say? So what, you say?

You died inside.

The ancients dreamed of the day when we could watch images of Martian weather phenomena on the Internet. I'm sure it says it somewhere in the hieroglyphs. I have not checked, but it does not matter. We have the images and they do not do it.

Many of these images come from the HiRISE camera (high resolution scientific experiment) installed on the MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.). The dust devils are the HiPOD images, or HiRISE of the day. Even if you are not in the science of Martian and Martian explorations, the HiRISE images are always intriguing. Just let your eyes enjoy it.

The first two devil images of dust come from a region of Mars called Acidalia Planitia, a region of Mars known for its dust devils.

A topographic map of Mars. Acidalia Planitia is located at the top center, in a uniform blue area. Image Credit: By United States Geological Survey - https://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/images/mola_regional_boundaries.pdf, public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php? curid = 58025940
A topographic map of Mars. Acidalia Planitia is located at the top center, in a uniform blue area. Image Credit: By United States Geological Survey – https://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/images/mola_regional_boundaries.pdf, public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php? curid = 58025940

Our Martian rovers have also spotted dust devils. MSL Curiosity captured those from the video below.

MSL Curiosity captures images of dust devils on Mars.

In 2012, the HiRISE camera on the MRO captured this image of a serpent-like dust devil on Mars. The thing was over half a mile in height and, although the devil of the dust itself is serpentine, it is only because of the wind. The devil of the dust traveled in a relatively straight line.

The MRO HiRISE camera captured this image of the serpentine dust demon on Mars in 2012. Credit: By NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Arizona - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA15116, public domain file, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid = 19076066
The MRO HiRISE camera captured this image of the serpentine dust demon on Mars in 2012. Credit: By NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Arizona – http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA15116, public domain file, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid = 19076066

The next demon of dust in our menagerie is cold because it is inside a crater on Mars. This one was captured by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) orbiter. AMS was launched in 1996 and the mission was declared complete when MGS became insensitive in 2006. There is an archive of images from the Mars Orbiter camera for this mission.

A dust devil inside a martian crater, imitated by the Mars Global Surveyor. The dark point is the devil's own dust, the trail is the trail left by the devil and the long parallel trails are sand dunes on the floor of the crater. Image Credit: MGS / Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=425085
A dust devil inside a martian crater, imitated by the Mars Global Surveyor. The dark point is the devil's own dust, the trail is the trail left by the devil and the long parallel trails are sand dunes on the floor of the crater. Image Credit: MGS / Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=425085

The best image of the Martian dust devils is this one. It contains traces left by a plethora of dust devils crossing the surface of Mars. Devils often discover a hidden layer of a different soil type, and the colors contrast, creating this thrilling image of art in the wind.

The clever creations of the Martian wind. Image credit:
NASA / JPL / University of Arizona
The clever creations of the Martian wind. Image credit:
NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

The dust devils are called aeolian processes in the scientific language. These are changes caused by the wind on the surface of a planet. They are also called thermal vortices. Here are some more Martian beauties.

No more dust devils on the surface of Mars. The visual interaction between the traces of the dust devil and the dunes pushed by the wind is magnificent. Image Credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona.
No more dust devils on the surface of Mars. The visual interaction between the traces of the dust devil and the dunes pushed by the wind is magnificent. Image Credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona.

Most dust devils on Mars are not so big. But in March 2012, the HiRISE camera captured an absolute monster. Spotted in the region of Amazonis Planitia, this giant has created a plume of dust from a height of 20 km. On Earth, dust devils rarely exceed several hundred meters, although tornadoes can reach nearly 10 miles high.

A very big devil of Martian dust. It has reached 20 km high. Image Credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona
A very big devil of Martian dust. It has reached 20 km high. Image Credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona


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