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Dust Devil on Mars


Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

For such a dead planet, Mars sure has got a lot of things going on. LIke
this mini tornado, as captured by camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter:

A towering dust devil casts a serpentine shadow over the Martian
surface in this stunning, late springtime image of Amazonis Planitia.

The length of the shadow indicates that the dust plume reaches
more than 800 meters, or half a mile, in height. The tail of the plume
does not trace the path of the dust devil, which had been following
a steady course towards the southeast and left a bright track behind
it.

The delicate arc in the plume was produced by a westerly breeze
at about a 250-meter height that blew the top of the plume towards the
east. The westerly winds and the draw of warmth to the south combine
to guide dust devils along southeast trending paths, as indicated by
the tracks of many previous dust-devils. The dust plume itself is about
30 meters in diameter.

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Date
March 8th, 2012

Author
Stranger to the World

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