Monday 2 October 2023

Dust devil observed from the surface of Mars.

NASA's  Perseverance Rover has observed and recorded an dust devil from the surface of Mars. These storms are well recorded from space-based observations made by satellites orbiting Mars, but ground-based observations are much rarer, in part because rovers on Mars are usually closed down when dust storms approach them, to prevent them from being damaged.

NASA’s Perseverance rover captured this Martian dust devil moving east to west at a speed of about 19 kmph along Thorofare Ridge on  30 August 2023. The video has been sped up 20 times, is composed of 21 frames taken four seconds apart, and has been digitally enhanced in order to show maximal detail. NASA/JPL/Caltech.

Dust devils are a phenomenom known on Earth as well as Mars, although the lower gravity and thinner atmosphere of Mars means that the Martian devils tend to be both taller and slower moving than their Earthly equivalents. This storm was about 4 km away from the rover when it was observed, and was moving along a portion of the western rim of Jezero Crater known as Thorofare Ridge at a speed of about 19 kmph. The storm of the dust devil is not visible, but based upon its shadow, it is estimated to have been about 2 km high, with the basal portion being about 60 m wide.

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