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A Great Place to Watch the Weather - Dust devils

in this time of year when Mars is most likely to be covered by global dust storms, NASA's Spirit rover has been experiencing relative calm. In fact, the martian winds have been quite beneficial, clearing dust from the rover's solar panels and increasing the solar energy available for driving to new places and conducting scientific experiments.

The martian wind sends hundreds of dust devils spinning across the surface of the planet. From Spirit's high perch approximately 90 meters (295 feet) above the surrounding plains, as shown in this image taken from the summit of "Husband Hill," three dust devils are clearly visible in the plains of Gusev Crater. Planetary Scientist Ron Greeley of Arizona State University, Tempe, describes the whirling vortices of wind and dust as "vacuum cleaners" that were first seen in images from the Viking Orbiter in 1985, though their existence was predicted as early as 1964.

The most prominent dust devil in this image, visible on the left side of the 360-degree panorama, is one of the closest seen by Spirit. It is about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away from the rover, about 90 meters (295 feet) in diameter at its widest point, and 275 meters (902 feet) tall. Its flux is about 1 kilogramper second, meaning it is picking up about 2 pounds of sediment each second and moving it around.

Spirit took this mosaic of images with its navigation camera on sol 581 (Aug. 22 2005). Straight ahead, just east of the rover, is the summit of "Husband Hill."

Links:Nasa Exploration Rover



Opportunity First panorama from the backside of mars 020204

Spirit leaves the Mothership
Jan 16
BW Cubic Panorama

Mars Pathfinder 1997. For the first time in Fullscreen Cubic QTVR

Panoramic Image © NASA
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