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SE: NASA releases video of ‘Dust Devil’ on Mars’ surface

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: September 15, 2020 9:03:43 AM

NASA releases video of ‘Dust Devil’ on Mars’ surface

From the ever alluring and confusing world of martianism, here comes another video of the decidedly well-known phenomenon ‘Dust Devils’. The US-based space agency NASA shared a video on Instagram on September 13 showing the formation of seemingly dangerous whirlwinds.

The agency said its ‘Curiosity Rover’ on August 9 caught the feathers of the spinning columnar wind vortex called the “Dust Devils”. It also knew it was 16 meters (5 meters) wide and 164 feet (50 meters) high, while it was almost a third to a half mile away from the rover. Meanwhile, it attributed to the prevailing windy season in the region for such formations.

Currently, the location of curiosity is on Mount Sharp, a high point in the Gale Crater, where it recorded this event and had left network users in curious awe.

Such swirling dust columns vary in size and can be as colossal as being 20 km high, as witnessed in March 2012, and in a few cases it can be as wide as 50 meters and 650 meters high if images were published by the University of Arizona.


In October 2019, NASA’s Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped the massive vortex through its 2006 HiRISE camera, built by the university.

In its entirety, it can pose an obstacle to the plans for human establishment on Mars, as the dust particles under the whirlwind can rub against each other, leading to radiation of the electric field in the air due to the extremely dry climate of the planet.

How are these ‘dust devils’ formed?

These vortex wind formations can again be attributed to the extremely dry and high temperatures on the red planet. Due to the heat, the surface heats up, making the ground below warmer than the air above it. As a result, less dense air rises to the ground, further pushing the cooler air over, while the relatively colder air pushes the warm air down. This phenomenon leads to the vertical circulation of the air and with the wind direction it then moves horizontally. This causal effect finally produces the dust devil.

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