Science and Nature

WATCH: NASA releases video of ‘Dust Devil’ on Martian surface

WATCH: NASA releases video of ‘Dust Devil’ on Martian surface thumbnail

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

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

Scientists discover liquid water in the lakes of Mars; hints towards existence of life and habitat

From the ever-enticing and bewildering Martian world, here comes another video of the certainly known phenomenon of ‘Dust Devils’. The US-based space agency NASA shared a video on Instagram on September 13 showcasing the formation of seemingly dangerous whirlwinds.

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

Currently, curiosity’s location is on Mount Sharp, a peak within Gale crater where it recorded this occurrence and had left the netizens in inquisitive awe.

Such swirling columns of dust vary in size and can be as colossal as being 20km tall which was witnessed in March 2012 and in few instances it may be as wide as 50 metres and 650 metres tall, images of which, were published by the University of Arizona.


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

In its entirety, it may pose an impediment to the plans of human establishment on Mars, as during the whirlwind, the dust particle may rub against each other leading to the emanation of the electric field in the air due to the extremely dry climate of the planet.

How do these ‘Dust devils’ get formed?

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

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