1.2 mile-high ‘dust devil’ spotted on Mars by Nasa’s Perseverance rover
A NASA rover has captured incredible footage of a “dust devil” sweeping across the surface of Mars.
To many on Earth, dust devils are known to form vertical columns of particles and hot air when the weather is particularly warm.
But, astronomers have now observed a dust devil forming on Mars and it was absolutely huge, reaching an astounding 1.2 miles high.
Images of the phenomenon were captured by NASA's Perseverance rover, which made its way to the Red Planet on 30 July 2020 and landed in February 2021.
The machine’s cameras captured the plume of air and particles moving from east to west, travelling at a speed of around 12 miles per hour at Thorofare Ridge, on the western rim of the planet’s Jezero Crater, on 30 August 2023.
The rover was located around 2.5 miles from the passing dust whirlwind when it captured the incredible scene in a series of photographs.
NASA used the image data received from Perseverance to create a moving image made up of 21 frames taken four seconds apart, sped up 20 times.
A NASA blog post about the phenomenon explained: “Using data from the imagery, mission scientists determined that the dust devil was about 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) away, at a location nicknamed ‘Thorofare Ridge,’ and moving east to west at a clip of about 12 mph (19 kph).
“They calculated its width to be about 200 feet (60 meters). While only the bottom 387 feet (118 meters) of the swirling vortex are visible in the camera frame, scientists used the dust devil's shadow to estimate its full height at about 1.2 miles (2 kilometres).”